Feds Allege Melton's Past 'Crimes,' Including Bribery | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Feds Allege Melton's Past 'Crimes,' Including Bribery

photo

Mayor Frank Melton, pictured here in 2006, may have bypassed Council and brought in his own debris crew from Louisiana.

See U.S. v. Melton filings here.
See JFP Melton Blog/Archive here.

U.S. Department of Justice attorneys served notice yesterday (PDF) that they plan to detail Mayor Frank Melton's "other crimes" and "wrongs" in his upcoming trial for allegedly leading police and teenage friends to destroy a duplex at 1305 Ridgeway Street on Aug. 26, 2006. That evidence will include Melton's destruction of other houses, ordering of police officers to kick in a hotel door, filling out a false arrest warrant for Albert "Batman" Donelson and an attempt to bridge two police officers with promotions.

The motion, filed yesterday in U.S. District Court to meet an Oct. 29 discovery deadline, said such evidence is admissible to show that Melton had intentionally committed similar acts, including ordering officers and others to commit illegal actions, even after being warned that the actions were illegal. The prosecution also told the court that the evidence may be offered as impeachment evidence, even if it is not presented to support the "case-in-chief" for destroying the duplex.

The order detailed the other evidence. First, it says that in July 2005, soon after being inaugurated, Melton "sought to have law enforcment officers forcibly enter an occupied hotel room by kicking in the door when no legal justification existed for the warrantless entry." A police officer present that night will testify that Melton ordered the action even though several officers told him that a warrant or other legal justification was needed. Furthermore, bodyguard and co-defendant Michael Recio "was present for this incident and was aware that Melton's intended course of conduct was in violation of the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution."

That incident shows both men's "intent, knowledge and absence of mistake" on the evening of Aug. 26, 2006. Melton has told the media that the actions that night were simply a "procedural error" because he did not get a warrant first.

Secondly, the government may show that in August 2006, just days before the duplex destruction, Melton ordered city officials to burn vacant houses on Congo and Campbell streets in Jackson, even though officials advised him that the action would violate state environmental laws and regulations. "The evidence will that an official with the Maryland Department of Environmental Quality explicitly told Melton that he was not authorized by state law to burn the homes."

That incident shows that Melton's Ridgeway actions were "not a mistake or an inadvertent failure to follow procedure, as he has claimed in press interviews," the government stated.

The third incident is that in 2007 Melton ordered a contractor to tear down a house on Cohea Street, which had not been approved for demolition, even though a city official told him it hadn't been approved. "Even after the uproar surrounding the authorized destruction of the Ridgeway home in 2006, an unrepentant Melton continued to attempt to subvert the rule of law by giving this order," the government wrote.

Fourth, the government may argue that in March 2006, Melton and Recio ordered a car to be towed without legal cause, even though Melton was told he could be arrested if he had it towed. "Further," the government said, "Recio caused a false report to be written to obscure this illegal act."

Then, in April 2006, Melton prepared a false affidavit to support re-arresting Albert "Batman" Donelson after he was acquitted in a murder trial, the government said. The mayor took that action even though law enforcement warned him that the action was "unsupported by law and would constitute an illegal seizure in violation of the United States Constitution."

In 2007, the government said, Melton tried to bribe law enforcement officials whom he believed had been subpoenaed to testify before a federal grand jury against him. On the day they received the subpoenas, Melton called each of them and offered promotions. "Neither had applied for a promotion at the time, and Melton had not had contact with the witnesses for many months prior to these phone calls," the government said.

"The thing that really stands out, that if I were the mayor I would want—at all costs—the jury never to hear about, is this alleged bribe through promotion of the two witnesses," said Mississippi law professor Matt Steffey. "Because all the rest of that stuff, the other five things are kind of with his crimefighting hat on."

He added, "Trying to put pressure on witnesses before a grand jury is the sort of thing that mobsters do, not mayors."

Previous Comments

ID
140031
Comment

Dang. Frank is a bigger fool than I knew. He simply said screw the law and the people because I'm Frank Melton. How did a nut like this get to be mayor and supreme police chief in charge before we learned he was crazy. I see why the feds want him. It's one thing to stick your foot across the line, but altogether different to say hell nall to a warrant when there is no emergency or exigency circumstance. Some of this stuff seems off base in the case in chief but surely Frank will open the door to it all coming in if he gets to testify and decide the course of the defense. Frank should go to prison if he doesn't take a plea and lighten his chances of being thrown away. I see why Recio is trying to sever his case, and why Wright girled-up and plead. The schitity is about to hit the fan and it's funkier than we knew. Don't get me wrong now. Frank is not a mere man. He still might pull another rabbit from the hat.

Author
Walt
Date
2008-10-30T15:40:38-06:00
ID
140033
Comment

Thanks, Baquan, but I think I'll pass on the general thing. ;-) As for pundits saying that the feds didn't have a good chance of convicting Melton, that has always been naive and not based on anything real. The Clarion-Ledger has done such terrible reporting on him over the years, though, that I'm not surprised. He was a folk hero of their making; they haven't wanted him to fall easily and make a fool of them. I think it's long been clear that the feds were being very thorough in their investigations and very likely have files that involve a lot more than the evening of Aug. 26, 2006, which seems to be the easiest case to bring. I presume that they could still bring other charges, though, especially with bodyguard(s) turning on him. Just a guess. I highly suspect that he should've taken the offer that Hood/Peterson made him last year and stepped down. He would not have served prison time then; this time, I doubt they'll take it off the table even if he pleads. In the state trial, the judge helped Melton by allowing the defense—big fish to that small-town judge—so much leeway. That's just informed punditry, of course. Neither the feds or Melton's side are talking, due to the gag order.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2008-10-30T15:53:31-06:00
ID
140036
Comment

This is a bittersweet time for the capitol city. All of the antics by Melton DID NOT go unoticed, but just took time to take him down beyond any doubt. Melton is too ignorant to call a spade a spade and try and take a plea. It looks like the city will finally be rid of an eyesore, but his foolishness has caused us embarassment across the nation. I hope that he will be dealt with accordingly. Ladd you have done an outstanding job of journalism in giving the facts throughout this dark time in Jackson. ALL of your reports have been on point. I hope that Jackson will begin to heal and grow behind this.

Author
lance
Date
2008-10-30T16:03:54-06:00
ID
140037
Comment

Indeed Donna has done a great job with the exposing of Melton. Melton will take a plea right before it's too late. He was scared to death in the state case although all the stars lined up in his favor. He ain't got the balls to fight this matter to the end with Wright willing to tell everything he knows to save his tail, and the feds and judge willing to dispense the medicine, justice and punishment in whatever manner or mode it takes to get the job done. Let me say once and for all, that I don't blame Wright. I wouldn't risk again being away from my children for Frank's nutty butt. Recio will turn on him too in November before the hammer falls on him too. Frank is a jailbird walking, talking and pretending to have it all together. He merely wants a few more days of mayoring before turning himself in.

Author
Walt
Date
2008-10-30T16:19:40-06:00
ID
140038
Comment

Thank you, Lance. It wasn't popular when we started down this road in early 2005 during the campaign. But Melton just didn't add up to a "folk hero," when we started looking at his record. What I urge, and will continue to urge, Jacksonians to do is to not just blame Melton, but to take responsibility for the community's role in ordaining a man who said what they wanted to hear, especially about young, black "thugs." And the media, well, you know how I feel about that. They had years to tell the Melton story, and abdicated their responsibility. I will also say that the state trial, although doomed from the beginning due to the judge and other factors, was necessary to get to this point. And the people who made that happen should get credit, and will when the full history is written. We did our journalistic job to break this story and many others about Melton, but some other folks stepped up, too, albeit a bit late.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2008-10-30T16:26:02-06:00
ID
140043
Comment

As Donna has so clearly noted, this is not a time to be braying over Mr. Melton's downfall. His intentions may have been worthy, but his actions have been nearly tragic. I hope the city can get through this quickly and without turmoil. I take no pleasure in seeing Mr. Melton's implosion, but it will be necessary to have a clean break very soon. I hope Mr. Melton will realize this as well.

Author
tombarnes
Date
2008-10-30T18:57:39-06:00
ID
140057
Comment

Clearly Frank was off the chain if he did all those other things of ordering the burning and destructions of other homes. For some reason I can easily believe he did all of it. If he follishly goes to trial anyway and that locomotive runs him over as expected and predicted, I hope Wright tells everything he knows, and Recio, too. I would like to know all of Frank's sins against the community and Jackson before he's sent to the slammer where can "sin no more" for a few years. We don't have to worry about Frank in prison. Federal prison is humane and with good protection. Moreover, Frank is a hair-trigger liar. In a matter of days, he'd be rolling with the bloods, crips, vice-lords, lonstone rangers, disciples, et al. In a matter of months afterward, all of them will discover he lied to them and cast him out. Don't worry about this either for Frank is a player like few others. He will then tell the prison officials, the FBI, U.S. Marshall, ATF all he learned while perpertrating as a member of each and be put on the list where you're given a new name and identity. Not too long after that unfortunately, due to Franks great ambition to me mayor and chief police office again, he will foolishly run for mayor somewhere again and blow his identity once more and again, and have federal official and leaders of each game searching desperately to get to him. In the end the feds will beat the Gangleaders of America to Frank and save him again until the next flare up. We gonna miss Frank. Thanks for the memories. You're a comedian's dream.

Author
Walt
Date
2008-10-31T10:32:20-06:00
ID
140061
Comment

I shudder to think what would have happened had we had the JFP to rely on for credible and unbiased reporting during this debacle of an administration.

Author
lanier77
Date
2008-10-31T12:28:54-06:00
ID
140063
Comment

I assume you mean: "...had we NOT had..." ;-)

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2008-10-31T13:00:34-06:00
ID
140064
Comment

Melton might find out even that comment violated the gag order. Federal judges don't play or quickly forgive.

Author
Walt
Date
2008-10-31T13:04:04-06:00
ID
140067
Comment

I thought the same thing last night when WAPT quoted what Melton said. But then again, what do you expect from a man that didn't listen to Jim Hood and Judge Tomie Green?

Author
golden eagle
Date
2008-10-31T13:59:50-06:00
ID
140106
Comment

Assuming the mayor is now functionally a lame duck, although perhaps still dangerous, what will it take to get a competent, aggressive city government that will give the city a chance to achieve its potential? Surely he is not the root of all evils. Is this present city council prepared to lead the city? Do we need a new city council? Are those who helped install Melton 3 years ago now behind a single candidate? Is their judgment to be trusted?

Author
annyimiss
Date
2008-11-02T21:26:34-06:00
ID
140107
Comment

Right about now, it's probably time to clean house, even the ones who have voted against Melton most of the time.

Author
golden eagle
Date
2008-11-03T08:48:01-06:00
ID
140165
Comment

Clean House is understating the problem! What needs to be done is all of them need to be sitting in the same prison with Melton. Melton will be gone soon!!! But there are a long list of liars and thieves that are being paid by taxpayer money that will be facing indictments soon! Sarah O'Reilly Evans covered up illegal acts on city grants,city contract and illegal salaries of employees. Frank Blunston the two face con artist that help manipulate Melton in several of the illegal acts he has committed and now is lying that he didn't know about anything. This was the same thing that happen when he was over te City of Jackson Youth Detention Center. Charles Tillman, the I follow if you lead Council member that will do what ever Blunston tell him too? Marshan Crisler, the I want-to-be Mayor that changes with the wind and is well versed in flip flopping when it benefit him. McLemore, I am a Civil Rights liar and I want to be Mayor because I am a professional as long as you kiss my butt, sound like Melton doesn't it? Vernon Hughes, who to my understanding house was in foreclosure when it accidently caught fire and he as supervisor over Arson had his staff to investigate and rule his own fire as a accident and not intentional? That's one way of getting out of foreclosure!!! Let's face the facts the City of Jackson has been going down hill for several years. It's the same old story the hell with the people, I getting whatever I can for me and my friends even if it means that the citizens pay the price. The City of Jackson has in their employ Felons and people currently under indictment and other's that need to be indicted and the Jackson City Council has not requested or held any hearings on these problems where are the investigations and hearings on illegal purchases by Grant awarded to the City of Jackson, where are the hearings on City Contracts being awarded to family members of Council Members? All these so call bogus council people not only need to be cleaned out but their stink should be steamed cleaned out of the City of Hall! These Council members and Department Directors as well as any employee's with past criminal conviction and pending criminal cases should be immediately removed. We should be setting te example of honesty, integerity, fairness and accountability if we are going to be postive role models for our children and the vistors to our City!!!! Melton when you leave, Please take the rest of this trash with you!!!

Author
Hot Sauce
Date
2008-11-03T20:59:44-06:00
ID
140395
Comment

Donna, When are you going to contact the US Attorney, FBI and TSA and ask the simple question: Why haven't you (the Feds) held Frank Melton (as well as Recio, Wright, the Jackson Chief of Police and certain local TSA officials) accountable (both civil and criminal) for impersonating a law enforcement officer in order to carry (and for carrying) firearms on commercial aircraft, by-passing TSA screening operations and falsifying records related to law enforcement officers flying armed (among a host of other federal violations). In all of the reporting by the JFP and the CL, I don’t recall ever seeing that this question was ever directly asked or answered. I know of at least two TSA cases in Jackson that were opened against Melton and one against Recio and Wright and, if my information is correct, the FBI tried to present a criminal case against Melton to a federal grand jury, but that effort was blocked by the US Attorney. One has to ask the question: Why else did the Justice Department have to bring in outside US Attorneys to prosecute Melton on the civil rights violation? Dunn Lampton, or his Assistant US Attorneys should have easily been able to prosecute such a case. Maybe the current federal prosecutors should add the above violations of federal law to their motion to include Melton’s “past crimes” and “wrongs” to include “bribery” of his two body guards. Will you please just ask them that question? You might find that there is a much bigger story and cover-up by government officials than this business of unlawfully tearing down people’s property. Think about it!

Author
Jerimiah
Date
2008-11-07T07:29:04-06:00
ID
140401
Comment

Jerimiah, you seem to under-estimate the ability to get the feds to answer questions such as that by the media, and especially on the record.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2008-11-07T09:30:08-06:00

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