UPDATED: Melton Bodyguard Wright Pleads Guilty, Resigns | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

UPDATED: Melton Bodyguard Wright Pleads Guilty, Resigns

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Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright was acquitted in a state trial for helping attack a private duplex. This time, he has pled guilty.

Read: Adam Lynch's breaking Ridgeway coverage
JFP's Melton Blog/Archive

Mayor Frank Melton's bodyguard, Marcus Wright, has changed his earlier plea and pled guilty in federal court before Judge Anderson of a misdemeanor for conspiracy for his role in the 2006 demolition of a duplex on Ridgeway Street, as revealed by the Jackson Free Press in 2006. Wright who was a police officer along with fellow bodyguard Michael Recio, resigned from office minutes before invoking the plea deal. Wright's attorney John Colette told reporters that Wright had decided on the matter less than an hour before finalizing the plea deal.

"He decided to make this decision about 45 minutes ago," Colette told reporters. "All the felony charges will be dismissed at sentencing, ... I believe December 29. We got together with the government; the offer of the misdemeanor was very attractive to him to resolve potential felony charges."

Wright's misdemeanor plea leaves him with the possibility of serving up to one year, depending on Anderson's decision. His plea deal also means he will cooperate in the federal case against codefendants Melton and Melton's other bodyguard Michael Recio.

"There is a cooperation agreement with the government. Whatever the government (intends,) that what we're going to do," Colette said. "It's a standard cooperation agreement, as with any other plea of this nature. If the government believes that (testifying against Melton) is part of the agreement, then that's what he's going to do."

WLBT reported that Wright had confirmed witness reports that Melton was drinking on the night of the illegal demolition and that he saw the mayor breaking the windows of the Ridgeway Street home.

Wright's information matches witness testimony excluded from the state trial against Melton and his bodyguards for the same incident. Appointed Judge Joe Webster excluded Aug. 26, 2006, testimony from paramedics claiming that Melton smelled of alcohol when he rode in an ambulance later the same night after his entourage, which included minor friends of Melton, had moved onto the Upper Level nightclub.

Witnesses say Melton and his bodyguards, joined by young men not employed by the city whom he allowed to ride around with him on the city's Mobile Command Center, also raided the Upper Level, arresting club manager Tonarri Moore. Moore told the Jackson Free Press that the young men traveling with Melton kicked and beat him while he was in handcuffs.

An ambulance arrived soon after to carry Moore to the Central Mississippi Medical Center. Melton joined Moore as he was put on an ambulance, bringing him into the proximity of paramedic Derrick Malone, who was willing to testify during the state trial that he "smelled the aroma of alcohol" on Melton and that "on the night in question Defendant Melton's speech was slurred."

CMMC nurse Josh Foster was also willing to testify that Melton was belligerent to hospital staff after they demanded he move away from Moore, telling staff, "I am the Mayor of Jackson and by tomorrow I will own this hospital."

Former Mayor Dale Danks, who served as Melton's attorney during the state trial denied Melton was inebriated during the heat of the 2007 trial, telling the The Clarion-Ledger that he had not been drinking on the night in question, and that he is on a combination of heart medications that prevent him from imbibing alcohol.

Melton responded at the time that the only way someone could have smelled alcohol on him was because earlier in the evening he had attended a sporting event and threw out some beer bottles as he was leaving.

Jackson Free Press editor Donna Ladd also reported smelling liquor on Melton's breath after a ride-along on the Mobile Command Center in April 2006. Former Police Chief Shirlene Anderson, as well bodyguards Wright and Recio, accompanied Melton that night.

Melton's attorney John Reeves said he could not comment on the case, but expressed surprise at inquiries on the afternoon of the plea deal. Apparently, Wright's attorney had not informed Reeves of their client's decision.

Previous Comments

ID
138713
Comment

Bump. Huge news in Jacktown.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2008-10-07T13:12:37-06:00
ID
138714
Comment

WLBT is reporting that: Wright has agreed to cooperate with the government in exchance for other charges being dropped. Wright told the court that Frank had been drinking that night, and that he saw the mayor breaking windows in the duplex. Nothing from Ledger, yet. Of course, they did report the original story two full days after it broke. So maybe on Thursday?

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2008-10-07T13:27:14-06:00
ID
138715
Comment

OK, there they are: 45 minutes better than two days. ;-) Meantime, this does not look good for Mr. Melton. The chickens have just landed on his doorstep, it seems.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2008-10-07T13:35:13-06:00
ID
138718
Comment

I agree, this doesn't look good for Melton. I read this and got chill bumps. I can't wait to see what will happen in the coming days, weeks and months with this case.

Author
Sophie
Date
2008-10-07T13:50:04-06:00
ID
138719
Comment

Let me say this: I've felt sorry for Wright from the beginning. That doesn't excuse him breaking the law, but he always seemed young and naive, and very gullible about the power and persuasiveness of Melton. Probably the biggest tragedy of Melton is how many careers he is taking down with him. I do wonder if Wright will spill more than about Ridgeway Street. It could behoove Melton to resign quickly rather than force this forward. Personally, I don't think they should give him a pass if he resigns at this point, and frankly they may not need to with Wright as a witness. The feds are doing what the state couldn't do. That is their role, and I'm glad to see them stepping up. There is no telling the level of tragedy that has been averted by Melton being under indictment for a large part of his term. And I must add in here: Cheers to my staff for pursuing the truth so hard even as they were being ridiculed by Melton and friends. A special shout-out to Adam Lynch and Brian Johnson. I will never forget our teamwork during the heat of the Ridgeway investigation and the Batman trial. Great work, guys. Thank you. The wheels of justice turn slowly, but they do turn.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2008-10-07T14:13:59-06:00
ID
138721
Comment

Great news! Maybe the whole house will crumble now. Lord knows, its been a long time coming.

Author
Michele
Date
2008-10-07T14:29:59-06:00
ID
138724
Comment

Well, well, well, looky here, looky here. I wonder what kind of evidence they had to make Wright surrender like that, or was it just the result of a guilty conscience? Probably the former. Hi, Michele. :)

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2008-10-07T14:40:00-06:00
ID
138726
Comment

L.W., Wright was carrying a gun and went throught he back door without a warrant, according to witnesses. They had him. So did the state, but Melton's attorneys had the judge and the jury. But there is no "evil intent"/"but it was a drug house, really it was" B.S. going on with the feds. I'm sure they told Wright the only way to avoid prison is to sing about Melton. He made the smart move. Now, let's wait and hear what his tune ultimately sounds like. If I had written this play, it would be unfolding just as it is.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2008-10-07T14:44:16-06:00
ID
138727
Comment

Yes, I agree that it was a smart move on his part. My opinion is that Marcus is young and he fell in with the "wrong crowd" in an attempt to further his career. I'm sure many people did thinking that one could have worse buddies than the mayor of a capital city. I hope he stays focused on himself and his future. Be that as it may he did commit a crime while under the color of the law....which in my humble opinion isn't excusable.

Author
Queen601
Date
2008-10-07T14:57:22-06:00
ID
138729
Comment

Nicely said, Queen. "Wrong bunch," indeed. The other thing that bears saying here is that the community must take a hard look at why it put Melton there, even as the evidence was there for years that he was, shall we say, a problem. People shouldn't beat themselves up, but try to learn from it. And if it was up to the Ledger, we still wouldn't know about it, and God knows what would have happened since then had Melton not been under indictment for much of the time, and thus barred from his dangerous night rides.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2008-10-07T15:21:27-06:00
ID
138732
Comment

Todd's words are ringing true at this moment: "Do the right thing and wait." I remember so many Melton supporters haranguing the JFP over our tough coverage of him, even setting up entire Web sites to go after us (trivia: the genesis of one of the more insipid conservative sites in town). Do the right thing and wait. Words to live and work by.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2008-10-07T15:41:08-06:00
ID
138733
Comment

I knew this would happen. In fact, I even said on this very website that one or both bodyguards would eventually turn on Melton. Looks like Melton will be out of office sooner than we think after all.

Author
golden eagle
Date
2008-10-07T15:44:19-06:00
ID
138736
Comment

Donna, is there a mayoral race topic set up yet?

Author
QB
Date
2008-10-07T16:03:38-06:00
ID
138737
Comment

Thanks, baquan. We always try to be bold. It's often not popular to challenge bad public officials (like Bush and Melton). But you do it, regardless of party, if the information shows they deserve it. Frankly, I've never understood people who are so partisan (or, in Melton's case, stubbornly blind) that they can't change their mind about someone they supported, and insist on blaming the messinger instead. Jeff Good is someone in this town who had the class and self-esteem to stand up and say he was wrong. Other people just try to change the subject, after trashing those who tried to tell them in the first place. After all of this, none of which I regret, it feels pretty good to have one of the bodyguards admit that, yes, they did it and Melton told them to. Otherwise, I'd sum up this news in one word: "Checkmate."

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2008-10-07T16:06:00-06:00
ID
138738
Comment

Harry, I don't think so, but we certainly could do one. Let's see: How about I start one on the Politics blog?

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2008-10-07T16:07:02-06:00
ID
138741
Comment

I thought I'd feel jubilant - but I don't. I feel sad for Wright & the way he must feel. Imagine your mentor getting drunk and egging you on to commit a crime, to destroy someone's property and act as if you are above the law. Maybe vindicated is a better word.

Author
Izzy
Date
2008-10-07T17:10:53-06:00
ID
138747
Comment

This is a bittersweet day for Jackson. Its good that the empire that Frank built is starting to unravel. Its sad because so many people suffered during this time. I hope that Recio follows suit and pleads also. Lets see how powerful Melton is when he has no backup.

Author
lance
Date
2008-10-07T18:52:26-06:00
ID
138748
Comment

Agreed. The Melton Era has been a dark time here, and I hope it will be clear some day just how many people suffered.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2008-10-07T18:56:41-06:00
ID
138749
Comment

Its sad because so many people suffered during this time. Not only is it the people suffering, but there are those who staunchly feel as if Melton is doing the right thing and that there is a conspiracy to get rid of him, especially with the Ridgeway Street incident. I've tried to make a point with his supporters that a government official can't just go on private property and destroy the property. People have been subliminally led to believe that in order to feel safe, they have to give up their rights. This simply isn't true and if people are educated about it, then perhaps they would feel different about it.

Author
golden eagle
Date
2008-10-07T19:02:27-06:00
ID
138754
Comment

But I will say this, I feel sorry for all those poor people in Virden addition, Washington addition, George Town, The Queens, and Presidential Hiils that believed in that sorry joker. Easy there, baquan. I'm in the Hills, and I never drank the Kool-Aid. Not all of us have. By the way, the Hills is McLemore territory.

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2008-10-07T19:15:15-06:00
ID
138807
Comment

LW, I didn't know you lived in the Hills. There are some really great people living over there in your neighborhood. What do you think about JPD stepping up its presence in your neighborhood? I was glad to see that they recognized that they needed to keep an eye on the problems over there, but I also know I'd be aggravated having to stop at checkpoints on my own street. (Back on topic) I'm glad to see Melton and his cronies getting what they deserve. I do feel sorry for Wright and Recio in a way, but they really didn't have to drink that Kool-Aid.

Author
andi
Date
2008-10-07T22:02:52-06:00
ID
138809
Comment

My favorite part. An employee from Wright's lawyer's office confided in me that Wright had it written into his contract he would not take a deal and Collette would not pressure or force him into a plea. The idea (I am sure since Melton or his supporters had to front the tabs) that all would collectively shut up and be a quiet united front. Recio's attorney moves for a separate trial (indication he would be pointing the blame else where) and it was a race to the Feds with the most damning evidence for the least time. Wright pled, will tell ALL about Frank (about this incident and anything else of value the Feds are very detail oriented), and we will see what happens. I still wonder who paid Collette's retainer. It wasn't Wright unless he has assets nobody knows off. The question is, was it a Frank supporter, since Collette is very good, or a Frank antagonist, since everyone knows Collette is famous for flipping his client for short time against the "big guy" AGamma627

Author
AGamm627
Date
2008-10-07T22:07:22-06:00
ID
138810
Comment

What do you think about JPD stepping up its presence in your neighborhood? I was glad to see that they recognized that they needed to keep an eye on the problems over there, but I also know I'd be aggravated having to stop at checkpoints on my own street. Hmmm, I think there were some checkpoints right after that body was found in the park, but I haven't really seen any checkpoints after that, at least not on my end of the street. JPD was probably just hoping that whoever dumped that body would return to the scene of the crime. The park is quiet, remote and surrounded by trees, so I guess the perp thought it was a good place to go since someone did the same thing to Tawana Sandifer a couple of years ago. The park itself is very nice and family friendly. JPD just needs to swing through there more often and not take for granted that nothing ever happens in a nice park.

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2008-10-07T22:16:51-06:00
ID
138811
Comment

Right, I agree with you LW. I was just hoping that they were not going overboard and making residents uncomfortable.

Author
andi
Date
2008-10-07T22:29:39-06:00
ID
138813
Comment

Yep, my sources had told me Colette has a reputation for talking tough and then making deals—which, frankly, seems wise int his case. "ALL" is an intriguing word, I must say. I don't know who paid his retainer. Let me know if you hear, though. You got your ear to the ground. My kind of guy. ;-)

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2008-10-07T23:42:05-06:00
ID
138864
Comment

Were you guys at the press conference this morning? Lord, Melton screwed the pooch in that one...

Author
Puck
Date
2008-10-09T10:38:14-06:00
ID
138865
Comment

Adam was there. Said it was useless. A longer report, and audio, coming soon.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2008-10-09T10:53:02-06:00
ID
138871
Comment

What a weak-knees ex-police officer? I thought Wright was a player, a ganster, an OG, a pimp, a hustler and thangs. And he's gonna go and let the feds scare him like that. This breaks my heart. What about the team? The dream team! The action in Jackson! I'm still with Frank though and have every reason to beleive he can beat the feds. The harder they come - the harder they fall, says Jimmy Cliff. The feds knew Frank was going to take them to the wood shed too so they stole Wright to save face. It's a sad day in Jackson when the mayor can run the dancers, drug dealers and drug users out of town, then to thank him, the people put the law on him and doublely persecute him. Don't run Frank and don't back down. Keep pimping! Some of us citizen are with you 100%.

Author
Walt
Date
2008-10-09T15:37:53-06:00
ID
138873
Comment

Frank is now saying Wright plead to doing things he didn't do. Lawd have mercy! The feds done scared the boy so much that he's saying he did things he didn't. It seems once he gave up the badge and big old guns he lost his courage to stand up and fight a good fight. He still could get back his courage or manhood before trial and rescind the bad deal.

Author
Walt
Date
2008-10-09T16:04:56-06:00
ID
138874
Comment

Maybe they water boarded Wright. I can't swim. I'd confess to being a terrorist and tell them the location of Osama bin Laden.

Author
FreeClif
Date
2008-10-09T16:20:48-06:00
ID
138875
Comment

The worst part of the saga was people claiming that somehow Melton was being targeted because he was a black mayor fighting crime. Has anyone else heard that silliness in the past few months? I hate when people use the race card wrongly for vain reasons like when Clarence Thomas claimed he was he was the victim of a "high tech lynching". That is one so called "lynching" that a lot of African Americans were o.k. with. My attitude with folk like that is, "Get a rope!"

Author
FreeClif
Date
2008-10-09T16:38:35-06:00
ID
138879
Comment

I was in Atlanta yesterday with a friend of mine, walking around, and a guy tried to ask us for money - when we wouldn't give him any, he snarled "ya'll a bunch of racists" at us with venom in his voice. I found it strange. I saw many different races of people in all different jobs and places in Atlanta. To be accosted by a strange man asking for money, and then to turn him down politely and be called racist for that, it was just weird. A similar thing happened to me in Santa Fe when a drunk man asked me to put a bandaid on his infected eye. As I didn't know him I declined - he then called me a racist. I want to think these folks are just so hurt by mistreatment they lash out at anybody. but maybe they play that card cause they know they can play it, a kind of ace, knowing I'd feel bad about it.

Author
Izzy
Date
2008-10-09T21:02:56-06:00
ID
138881
Comment

The worst part of the saga was people claiming that somehow Melton was being targeted because he was a black mayor fighting crime. Has anyone else heard that silliness in the past few months? I hear it all the time from his supporters. Yet, if Melton was white, people would be calling for his head from the top of a mountain.

Author
golden eagle
Date
2008-10-09T21:09:37-06:00
ID
138888
Comment

When culprits get caught red handed and cry racism is no different than the Republicans crying sexism because they realized they made a mistake and nominated an empty headed wingnut...or when their greedy well-to-do supporters destroy America and then try to blame it on poor people who are being put out of their homes, saying ACORN made them do it. It reminds me of how Flip Wilson's character in the seventies would always say, "honey, the devil MADE me do it". So, we are supposed to believe that poor people and ACORN made the sub-prime lenders who became wealthy in the process...made them make all those dubious loans (of course, they were certainly not motivated by all the commissions they made off those poor schleps). These people types, the local ones included, make their living exploiting people's fears and ignorance. Otherwise, how could a Republican wingnut get elected in a predominantly African American, majority Dem area?

Author
FreeClif
Date
2008-10-10T08:22:20-06:00
ID
138890
Comment

I agree with Whitley and all about the dishonest or inappropriate use of the race card. Don't worry Laurel many of those fellows are nuts. I got accosted at the courthouse in Houston by a guy with no shoes and claiming to be an viet nam veteran. All I had was a $100.00 bill which I wasn't about the give to him. The guy was preaching about the goodness of the lord and quoting scriptures. I was impressed until I said I didn't have any small dollars. He quickly changed and called me every mf, sob and many other things I've never heard of before. It was so bad all I could do was laugh and get away as soon as possible. I apologize for him. You din't do anything wrong. The sad thing about all of this is that Frank is now a decent fellow and incompetent mayor as I expected him to be. I was all for a conviction earlier and running him off. He has now performed his way out of office. I don't believe there are enough nuts in the black community or any other community to elect Frank again.

Author
Walt
Date
2008-10-10T08:40:40-06:00
ID
138905
Comment

Walt, thanks! I feel comfortable bringing that up in this forum, and that's really good. I don't feel that I have fallen for anything regarding Melton, but I do feel bad for him, he's human like anyone else. Doesn't mean I don't want him held to laws like anybody else. I just feel sad about all of this. I want our town to be PROUD of it's mayor and our progess. We need to keep poor and middle income folks in our sights the whole way, no way can we just focus on development without keeping all classes in the mix.

Author
Izzy
Date
2008-10-10T10:06:18-06:00
ID
139003
Comment

Point number uno - I'm no Jeff Good, but I will say that I spoke a long time ago about my complete and utter disdain with myself that I was allowed to be manipulated by Frank Melton. I went to bat on this very site for him on many occasions because I felt that people were trying to control him and he needed room to make the corrections to the city that he needed to make. But as we can all see clearly now, he just wanted room to act up (as my mother would say). I remember a very refined and dignified man told me before the elections that putting "that man in office was going to be a mistake and we were going to regret it". He was right! But all we can do now is learn from the mistakes we made with him, and the ones we made with Harvey and elect someone NEW and READY to serve this city. I am afraid that people will resort to what is comfortable and put Johnson back in office. I know many of you here have soft spots for the guy - he's a good dude - I can understand. But mayor material, Harvey isn't the answer either. Izzy, let me say this, it's going to take much more than you feeling bad because someone called you a racist; more than me being embarassed that you had to encounter it for it to cease. This attitude has been festering within the heart of black people for as long as you have been alive. It's not going to go away because most of us know better now. It's going to be a gradual effort. And unfortunately we need to start at the top fixing this problem, which means the homeless people have decades to go before they aren't spewing these racist comments. The only thing you and I can do, is ignore it or educate them. Since I feel like you probably didn't feel exactly safe, that was likely not the best time to start preaching about being or not being a racist...however, when you have the opportunity to do so safely - do it. I do! Educate people and listen to them....but BE SAFE while doing so.

Author
Queen601
Date
2008-10-13T16:37:42-06:00
ID
139026
Comment

The prosecutor should've held firm on Wright pleading guilty to the felony firearm violation - regardless of whether or not Wright serves any time or not. At least that way Wright won't be able to wear a badge again - at least not a real badge! In my opinion, he's a disgrace to the police profession and those who wear the uniform with pride. He should never be allowed to work in law enforcement again. I started to suggest that he could possibly work for the city sanitation department, but that would dishonor those poor, hard-working souls.

Author
Jerimiah
Date
2008-10-14T05:31:40-06:00
ID
139028
Comment

The Bible says Saul was a corrupt government employee (a tax collector) who saw the light and changed his ways. Maybe Wright can be redeemed. This society relies to much on punishment and not enough on rehabilitation. I agree that he should not wear a badge again. We need to be able to trust the judgement of those who enforce our laws.

Author
FreeClif
Date
2008-10-14T07:42:00-06:00
ID
139056
Comment

...I spoke a long time ago about my complete and utter disdain with myself that I was allowed to be manipulated by Frank Melton. I went to bat on this very site for him on many occasions because I felt that people were trying to control him and he needed room to make the corrections to the city that he needed to make...-Queen601 Water under the bridge. Don't feel bad, a lot of good people were duped by this empty suit. Hopefully Jackson voters and the local media will ask the tough questions of all the candidates and demand honest, thoughtful answers, and not settle for empty rhetoric.

Author
Jeff Lucas
Date
2008-10-14T11:52:38-06:00
ID
139057
Comment

Queen, I appreciate your words on racism and how we will eventually eradicate it. You are right, it will take time, and leadership to guide us through that. It is deep wounding of many psyches, I am of the opinion that oppression wounds both the oppressors and the oppressed. In some cases I can speak about this, you are right that in both the cases I mentioned, I did not feel safe. The man in Santa Fe, I believe, was Native American, he was about 6'4" and huge, and drinking. But in other circumstances I do feel comfortable talking about it.

Author
Izzy
Date
2008-10-14T12:02:13-06:00
ID
139059
Comment

Jerimiah- When one of the tv stations reported on the plea deal, they said part of it was he would resign and never work in law ennforcement again.

Author
BubbaT
Date
2008-10-14T12:32:41-06:00
ID
139252
Comment

Wright should have told the truth from the start and should have realized that Melton will lie on him or anyone else that stand up to his stupidity. Melton, actually thought that Wright would be the fall guy to keep him free. WRONG! Now, it's time to indict Sarah O'Reilly Evans, Frank Blunston and Charles Tillman. Recio should also go tell the truth and work out a deal for himself, I know that when the chips are down Melton will point the finger of blame on them.

Author
Hot Sauce
Date
2008-10-16T13:51:44-06:00

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