Byrd indictment details charges involving surveillance, sex

Published: Aug. 30, 2013 at 4:58 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 31, 2013 at 2:21 AM CDT
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Jackson County Sheriff Mike Byrd's mugshot (Photo source: Ocean Springs Police Dept.)
Jackson County Sheriff Mike Byrd's mugshot (Photo source: Ocean Springs Police Dept.)

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - The 31 count indictment against Jackson County Sheriff Mike Byrd culminates months of criticism and speculation about his future.

Charges on the list include fraud, embezzlement, witness tampering, perjury and extortion. And one of the extortion charges even accuses Byrd of demanding sexual favors from a female deputy, who he threatened to demote if she didn't comply.

He allegedly described sexual acts he wanted to perform on her. And when she refused his advances, the indictment alleges he took away some of her job responsibilities and transferred her to another work duty station.

The 29 felony and two misdemeanor charges listed in the indictment break down as follows:

  • 10 Fraud
  • 10 Embezzlement
  • 2 Hindering prosecution in 2nd degree
  • 2 Witness tampering
  • 1 Perjury
  • 2 Subornation of perjury
  • 2 Intimidating an officer in the discharge of his duties
  • 2 Extortion

Counts five and six allege the sheriff embezzled $195 in county funds. The money was reportedly used to pay two Narcotics Task Force agents to conduct surveillance on Ocean Springs Alderman Matt McDonnell for the sheriff's political or personal purpose.

In counts seven and eight, Mike Byrd is accused of fraud and embezzlement. That's in connection to surveillance he is accused of ordering on Moss Point Police Chief Keith Davis. The surveillance was reportedly in retaliation for Chief Davis disclosing there had been a shooting at the Jackson County Narcotics Task Force office.

Count 24, a perjury charge, is connected to that shooting. The sheriff is accused of lying to the grand jury when he told them that no one had tried to hide the fact there had been a shooting at the Narcotics Task Force office.

Several of the 10 counts of embezzlement the sheriff faces are related to some employees of his department being paid with county money for work they did on non-governmental events, such as a bass tournament and gospel sing.

Read the entire indictment:

Sheriff Byrd was given a $1,000 bond on each of the 31 counts. He surrendered to authorities at the Ocean Springs Police Department Friday afternoon with his attorney, Joe Sam Owen.

As with anyone charged with a crime, Mike Byrd is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. As an elected official, a sitting sheriff cannot be removed from office based on an arrest or indictment. So unless he resigns, Byrd remains sheriff of Jackson County. If he were to resign, it would be up to the Jackson County Board of Supervisors to appoint an interim sheriff until an election could be held.

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