Sheriff Byrd replaced as grand marshal of Hurley Christmas parade

mbbaker@sunherald.comDecember 4, 2013 

Jackson County Sheriff Mike Byrd, who plans to plead guilty to a federal felony charge next week, has been replaced as grand marshal of the annual Hurley Christmas parade set to roll 11 a.m. Saturday.

Lt. Matt Butler, the 2012 Northeast Firefighter of the year, has been named the new grand marshal to replace Byrd, who has been the grand marshal in all of the parade's previous years.

Byrd is set to plead guilty Tuesday to a federal felony charge of misleading conduct toward another as it relates to the June 19, 2012, arrest of John Mark Stahl, accused in the theft of a Jackson County sheriff's patrol car.

In the federal case, Byrd has admitted he ordered computer evidence and video footage of the incident deleted from a patrol car's dashboard camera. Byrd also admitted, as Stahl had told the Sun Herald in an interview in August, that he twice kicked Stahl in the groin after he was handcuffed and "unresisting."

In addition, Byrd has admitted to asking another deputy if he remembered Byrd kicking Stahl in the groin though the sheriff already knew by then he was the subject of federal criminal investigation into Stahl's case.

Stahl told the Sun Herald Byrd promised "he was going to use every bit of influence and power that he had to make sure that I (Stahl) spent the rest of my life in prison for embarrassing him, his office, and his officer."

A day after the Sun Herald reported the allegations, the plea agreement says, Byrd went to a deputy identified as a witness in the case in the Sun Herald's story and asked him to "explain it."

Byrd also enlisted an employee's help to erase the sheriff's computer hard drive to ensure no one could recover data from it. According to the plea agreement, the employee complied with those wishes.

In addition to the federal charge, Byrd is facing 29 felony charges and two misdemeanor charges in state court. The state charges portray him as a sheriff who allegedly used his office to retaliate against perceived enemies; order deputies and office staff to raise money for private causes; demand free lawn mower repair; and punish a female deputy who rebuffed his sexual advances.

The state charges, as listed: 10 counts each of fraud and embezzlement, one perjury charge, and two charges each of hindering prosecution, witness tampering, extortion, attempting to persuade another to commit perjury and intimidating an officer on duty.

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