Judge allows FBI, U.S. attorney to have grand jury testimony

FBI, US attorney probing 'allegations of impropriety'

mbbaker@sunherald.comAugust 24, 2013 

JOHN FITZHUGH/SUN HERALDJackson County Sheriff Mike Byrd answers questions about his job status outside his office at the county courthouse on Thursday Aug. 22, 2013.

JOHN FITZHUGH — SUN HERALD Buy Photo

PASCAGOULA -- A circuit judge has ordered testimony from two key Jackson County grand juries be turned over to the FBI and the U.S. Attorney's Office.

The order says the testimony will assist in an investigation into "allegations of impropriety" believed to be tied to the Jackson County Sheriff's Department.

District Attorney Tony Lawrence asked for the order, which was issued Aug. 15 by Circuit Judge Robert Krebs. And it says more than one grand jury has heard testimony in the case at issue.

The order doesn't mention Sheriff Mike Byrd by name, but he has been among the witnesses who testified before the grand jury during the dates listed in the order, October 2012 to present.

Others testifying at the time include agents with the Narcotics Task Force of Jack

son County over an investigation into a shooting that went unreported at their office in July 2012. Then-Cmdr. Jackie Trussell was indicted on a charge of simple assault in the case, pleaded guilty and resigned. Byrd did not disclose information about the shooting.

The Sun Herald has collected the grand jury reports mentioned in the order and they show witnesses on the dates specified also testified in the investigation of former Ocean Springs Alderman James Hagan, whom the Sheriff's Office arrested on allegations of possession of child pornography, embezzlement and molestation, though the charges were dismissed for lack of evidence.

Both Hagan and Trussell were spotted at the Jackson County Courthouse on Thursday where a grand jury heard evidence in the investigation with links to Byrd and those who work for him.

So far, more than 20 witnesses have testified in that investigation.

More recently, lawsuits have been filed accusing Byrd of targeting people for arrest.

Both Lawrence and Byrd have said they cannot comment on matters connected with a grand jury investigation.

A spokeswoman for the FBI had no comment Friday.

Karen Nelson, Sun Herald staff writer, contributed to this report.

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