JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Could Jackson County Sheriff Mike Byrd be heading to jail? The district attorney has made new accusations of criminal wrongdoing against Byrd and has filed court papers to have Byrd's bond revoked.
District Attorney Tony Lawrence filed a motion accusing Byrd of intimidating witnesses, specifically three Jackson County Sheriff's deputies who testified before the grand jury that indicted Byrd on August 30. The charges in the 31 count criminal indictment include fraud, extortion, embezzlement and perjury.
Details spelled out in the motion and statements allege Byrd started calling the deputies just days after his arrest. In the motion, Lawrence said "the Sheriff is using his position as Sheriff and supervisor of witnesses to compel them to talk about their testimony and has used direct and subtle intimidation."
Sergeant Brad Lewis stated that on September 4, he received phone calls from Sheriff Byrd and Chief Deputy Ken Broadus asking about arrests made at El Saltillo Mexican restaurant in Ocean Springs in June 2011. That restaurant is mentioned in the indictment against Byrd as a place Byrd ordered surveillance on after the restaurant refused to take a check from him.
Lt. Curtis Spiers said he received two phone calls from Sheriff Byrd on September 4th and 6th. Spiers stated Byrd quizzed him about the investigation at the restaurant. Spiers said the sheriff also asked him about other deputies' actions, accusing one of fraud and another of lying. Spiers said Byrd revealed he was "trying to gather evidence to give to his attorney to discredit" another deputy.
Byrd is accused of calling Lt. Ken McClenic on September 3 and asking about a surveillance operation on Ocean Springs resident John Curry. Curry was a vocal opponent of a hotel project proposed in the city. McClenic stated the sheriff asked a question "several times as if he were trying to get Lt. McClenic to remember who ordered the surveillance."
McClenic said the investigation began at the sheriff's request and he could not recall if he was ever told anyone but the sheriff wanted Curry investigated.
So what's it all mean for Sheriff Byrd? Byrd paid a $31,000 bond the day he was arrested. Typically bond is set, allowing the accused to stay out of jail until trial and to ensure they show up in court.
A special judge appointed to this case will now have to decide if Byrd violated the terms of his bond. The earliest that decision could come is at a hearing set for September 20th.