Mississippi sheriff indicted on 31 charges

A south Mississippi sheriff has been indicted on 31 counts, including charges accusing him of pushing an arrest in a murder case, even though a detective thought the suspect was innocent, and of snooping on employees at a restaurant that refused to accept a check from him.

The indictment against longtime Jackson County Sheriff Mike Byrd was dated Thursday and made public Friday. It charges him with using his office to retaliate against people he considered political and personal foes, including the police chief and a city alderman in Ocean Springs, one of the cities in Jackson County. The charges include fraud, extortion, embezzlement, witness tampering and perjury.

One of the charges said Byrd pressured a detective to sign a criminal affidavit and seek an arrest warrant against a man in a murder investigation in 2007 when the detective did not believe the man committed the crime. The indictment said Byrd was running for re-election at the time and wanted to be able to say there were no unsolved murders in the coastal Mississippi county of about 140,000 people.

An extortion charge in the indictment said Byrd pressured a female deputy to engage in sexual acts and threatened to give her a bad recommendation if she left his department.

AP
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