Jackson Co. investigator charged with perjury, fired immediately

JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - The fallout continues at the Jackson County Sheriff's Department.  Longtime lieutenant Kenneth McClenic was charged Thursday with lying under oath and was immediately fired from his job. Just last month, former sheriff Mike Byrd confessed to breaking the law and resigned as the leader of the department.

The trouble all started last summer when Byrd was being investigated for wrongdoings. McClenic testified to a grand jury that his boss pressured him into signing an affidavit and obtaining an arrest warrant against a man in a 2007 murder investigation - a man he didn't believe committed the crime.

The investigator claimed it was so Byrd could say he had no unsolved murders during a re-election year. The testimony led to Byrd being indicted on a charge of intimidating an officer in the discharge of his duties.

In September of last year, the indictment alleges that McClenic testified during a local trial that he had not been pressured by his boss to sign anything. All this information was then turned over to the attorney general's office to investigate McClenic.

"I remind everybody he, like any other criminal defendant, is presumed innocent under our constitution until a jury decides otherwise," Jackson County District Attorney Tony Lawrence said Thursday.

Lawrence wouldn't discuss the facts surrounding this case, but did say it was another sad day for law enforcement in Jackson County.

"But it also shows that the citizens of this county believe that no one is above the law. If you violate the law, you are going to be held accountable," Lawrence said.

Interim sheriff Charles Britt chose not to comment on the indictment because it was a personnel matter.

WLOX News called McClenic's attorney, but he was unable to be reached for comment.

McClenic has worked for the sheriff's department since 1985. His most recent job was the commander of the county's narcotics task force. If he is found guilty, he faces a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

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