A day after being indicted by a federal grand jury, Jackson, Ms., Mayor Frank Melton belittled the charges as lacking heft despite their heavyweight appearance, reports the Jackson Clarion Ledger. After more than a year of investigating Melton, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that Melton and his police bodyguards Marcus Wright and Michael Recio had been charged with two civil rights violations and a gun charge as a result of their role in wrecking a duplex.
Last year, a Hinds County jury found the three not guilty of burglary and felony criminal mischief related to damaging the house, which Melton maintains was a drug house. Mississippi College law school Professor Matt Steffey said the federal charges surprised him, too. Although Melton, Wright, and Recio beat the state charges in their April 2007 trial, they can be tried in federal court as well because they now are accused of violating federal law. “That is a technicality if there ever was one. To the mayor, it’s going to seem like he is standing trial for the same crime twice,” Steffey said. Melton, who has long held the investigation was politically motivated, said the investigation “seems like it is a big scam” to force him from office. He said before his state trial he was offered a deal that if he resigned the investigations would end.