Tracknum: 23222.214.171.124.0.0.20060916081403.0259f7a0 Pubdate: Sat, 16 Sep 2006 Source: New York Times (NY) Copyright: 2006 The New York Times Company Contact: http://www.nytimes.com/ Author: Shaila Dewan Bookmark: http://www.mapinc.org/corrupt.htm (Corruption - United States) JACKSON MAYOR IS INDICTED OVER CRIME-FIGHTING TACTICS The mayor of Jackson, Miss., was indicted on six felony charges Friday after months of criticism and warnings that his unorthodox crime-fighting tactics might put him on the wrong side of the law. Among the counts now faced by the mayor, Frank Melton, are burglary, malicious mischief, illegally carrying a gun and causing a minor to commit a felony. The most serious of the charges against him carry sentences of up to 25 years, said the local district attorney, Faye Peterson. The mayor's supporters called the charges politically motivated and said he would not resign. Some of the charges stem from a sheriff's investigation of the night of Aug. 26, when the home of Evans Welch, a man with a history of mental illness and petty crimes, was attacked by a sledgehammer-wielding group of young men without warning or permit. Witnesses said Mr. Melton, who often patrols the city at night with the police and a group of teenage followers, had directed the demolition of the house, which he said was known as a place to buy illegal drugs. His two police bodyguards are also charged in connection with that event. Dale Danks, Mr. Melton's lawyer, issued a statement acknowledging that damage had been done to "the drug house" and that "maybe better judgment could have been used." "But," the statement said, "the charges that have been made against Mayor Melton are an extreme and excessive reaction." Mr. Melton was also charged with carrying a gun on the campus of the Mississippi College School of Law, in a public park and in a church. The first is a felony; the two others are misdemeanors. All three of these cases had been referred to the local authorities by the state attorney general, Jim Hood, who had earlier written Mr. Melton a letter warning that he could not legally carry a gun in such places. Mr. Melton, a former television executive, took office in July 2005, promising to lower the crime rate in Jackson, the state capital. He personally oversaw those efforts, drawing attention for going on nighttime raids, using the Police Department's only mobile command unit and wearing a police jacket and badge. After The Clarion-Ledger, Jackson's daily newspaper, reported that he made a habit of traveling with guns, the federal Transportation Security Administration, the paper said, requested that he no longer carry guns aboard commercial airplanes, as he had under a waiver granted to law enforcement personnel. In April, Mr. Melton used a police car to pull over four school buses on a highway so that, he said, he could talk to the children and hug them. After a grand jury returned the indictments Friday, the mayor surrendered, posted a $50,000 bond and was released on condition that he refrain from using law enforcement vehicles, carrying firearms or supervising minors.