Longtime Sheriff of Jackson County MS, Mike Byrd, was indicted on 31 counts ranging from fraud and embezzlement to perjury and extortion.
One of the charges accuses Byrd of forcing a detective to sign a criminal affidavit against a man in a murder investigation in 2007, even though the detective did not believe the man committed the crime.
The indictment says Byrd was running for re-election at the time and wanted to be able to say there were no unsolved murders in the county.
In total, Byrd is charged with 29 felonies and 2 misdemeanors.
The counts are as follows:
- 10 Embezzlement
- 2 Hindering prosecution in 2nd degree
- 2 Subornation of perjury
- 2 Extortion
- 10 Fraud
- 2 Intimidating an officer in the discharge of his duties
- 2 Witness tampering
- 1 Perjury
In one of the fraud counts, the indictment describes how Sheriff Byrd order county employees to conduct pre textual surveillance on Employees of El Saltillo Mexican Restaurant in Ocean Springs, MS. The indictment says it was retaliation for the restaurant's refusal to accept a check from Sheriff Byrd after a campaign dinner.
Byrd is also accused of extorting sexual favors from a female deputy. The indictment claims Byrd moved her to a different office and took away some of her responsibilities, when she would not comply with his requests.
Byrd's lawyer did not immediately respond to a message.
He is a Republican in his fourth term in the county, which is in coastal Mississippi.
Byrd will remain in office as Sheriff as the case moves forward in the courts, unless he decides to resign.
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