Sheriff says he didn't know benefit fund paid for son's funeral expenses

mbbaker@sunherald.comJuly 23, 2013 

PASCAGOULA -- Jackson County Sheriff Mike Byrd on Tuesday said he did not know hundreds of dollars from his benefit bank account was used to pay for his son's funeral expenses in 2006.

"The sheriff said he has no knowledge of his son's funeral expenses being paid for with the benefit fund," Byrd said through his public information official, Cherie Ward. "He said he was just made aware of it yesterday. The sheriff said he has a person who balances the benefit account each month."

Last week, Byrd turned over records for the account, complete with financial statements, cancelled checks, receipts and check stubs.

Among the thousands of dollars of expenditures was a $781 check to Holder Wells Funeral Home, the records show, for "Byrd funeral expenses." Byrd's son, Terry Micheal Byrd, was a Pascagoula motorcycle patrol officer when he was killed in an accident on March 26, 2006, in Pascagoula.

In addition to the money sent to the funeral home, money from the account was used to send flowers to Micheal Byrd's funeral just as cash from the account was used to send more than $18,000 in flowers between 2005 and 2011 to countless memorials or funerals.

Between 2009 and 2012, the sheriff also spent more than $22,000 on four Christmas parties, the records show.

As for those expenses, Byrd said through his public information official, that

the "benefit account is set up for the benefit of the employees and their families. The Christmas Banquet includes the employees and their families; food and non-alcoholic drinks; awards and presentations, including officer of the year."

In addition, in September 2007, $150 was paid for the cremation of a German shepherd named Bear who a sheriff's deputy shot and killed. The deputies had gone to the home in search of a capital murder suspect, but had gone to the wrong house. A memo on the $150 check said it was written for "cremation of dog per SO-1."

Another check, this one written for $350 in September 2007, covered the costs to "replace dog shot per SO-1."

SO-1 is Byrd.

Byrd was a direct recipient on some occasions.

In December 2010, a $300 check was written to cover the costs for "SO-1's gift," and in December 2011, $400 was spent at Discount Pawn and Gun for a "Christmas present for SO-1."

The fund also paid for two trips to Washington, D.C., to the National Law Enforcement Memorial during National Police Week. In 2009, an $8,000 check was made to cash with "Memorial Service in Washington," on the check; it for $5,765 in 2010.

The fund also was used to make contributions ranging from $25 to $100 to a number of charitable organizations.

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