Gun charge tossed in Jackson Mayor Melton case

Federal prosecutors apparently will drop a weapons charge from the three criminal counts facing Mayor Frank Melton and his former bodyguard Michael Recio.

U.S. District Court Judge Dan Jordan started a teleconference this afternoon by asking federal prosecutor Mark Blumberg about the status of a count of possession of a handgun in commission of a crime of violence.

“I had not intended to file it until we got closer to the trial date,” Blumberg said.

Jordan noted he had not included it in the preamble to a questionnaire that will be sent out to potential jurors later this week. The questionnaire reads, “Defendants are charged with two offenses” and lists one count of criminal conspiracy to violate constitutional rights and a count of violation of rights under color of law.

The decision by prosecutors to withdraw the weapons charge is significant, since it was the only count that included guaranteed prison time for Melton and Recio should a jury find them guilty. Possession of a firearm during the commission of a violent crime carries a five-year mandatory sentence.

Clarion-Ledger 4/1/9