Crime

A fire house or ‘personal motel’ for sex? 11 former, current employees sue Mario King

Moss Point Mayor Mario King is an intimidating pistol-packing mayor who harasses non-millennial employees to force them out of a job, uses city resources for his own personal use and retaliates against employees who try to take a stand against him, according to the latest lawsuit filed against the first-term mayor.

The suit accusing King of age discrimination, harassment and other charges was filed this month on behalf of 11 current and former city employees and the wife of a firefighter.

“After the new mayor took office, the atmosphere for many of the older workers within the city changed,” the lawsuit says. “The mayor has exhibited a disregard for the law and individual rights of many of his employees, even extending his unlawful behavior to elected officials in the city and the county.”

During the mayoral campaign, King vowed to bring youth to the city and one of the first things on his agenda when he took office was to request a list of all employees and their years of service, allegedly in an attempt to weed out older employees.

The plaintiffs are former City Clerk Stephanie Coleman; former Grant Writer, Felicia Yearwood; retired Fire Chief Tommy Posey; former Human Resources employee, Windell Ashford; Building Inspector Willie Nettles; former Superintendent of Parks and Recreation, Chad Smith; Main Street Director, Shirley Joseph; employee Jacqulyn Davis; firefighters David Eaker, Franklin Vance and Scott Montague; and Eaker’s wife, Tamara “Misti” Eaker.

They are asking for unspecified punitive and compensatory damages. The suit is against the city and King.

The lawsuit is the second filed against King in the last two months.

Alderman Ennit Morris is suing for $1 million or more over various allegations, including that King has harassed and threatened him, even having the alderman “forcibly” arrested after he questioned the expenditures of King and his administration.

The Sun Herald reached out to King for comment, but he did not respond.

A ‘personal motel’ for sex?

In the latest lawsuit, King is portrayed as a dictatorial mayor who has created a hostile environment that includes him trying to coerce some employees to lie about others in an attempt to take action against them, transfer them to a new department or eliminate their positions altogether.

Since he took office in 2017, King has allegedly committed other wrongdoing, including the misuse of city resources, the lawsuit said.

For example, the lawsuit said, he’s accused of using the Fire Department’s living quarters as a “personal motel” for sex and accusing four white firefighters of being racist and prohibiting them from displaying any Confederate emblem or flag at work despite no indication of them ever doing so.

He’s also accused in the paperwork of violating one’s second amendment right to bear arms when he prohibited anyone other than police personnel, including residents, from carrying a firearm at city hall, though he himself allegedly shows up at work each day with a pistol.

In fact, the suit says, King on at least one occasion pulled out his firearm on the job and used it “to intimidate and harass” an employee.

Misappropriation of funds

Other allegations include suggestions that King has violated state law.

“The mayor has sought to use his position to intimidate employees for the benefits to himself, his friends and family in and around the city of Moss Point,” the suit says. “The mayor has misused city resources and despite demands from state agencies that the mayor cease misuse of city resources, the mayor has continued to misuse city resources and punish city employees responsible for reporting the mayor and/or cooperating with state agencies reviewing matters of misuse.”

Specifically, the mayor is accused of misappropriating and misusing city funds by doing the following:

  • Requiring city employees to work at private events though they were compensated with city dollars.
  • Using city employees and interns as personal drivers.
  • Using city vehicles for personal use.
  • Using taxpayer-funded trips for personal gain.
  • Using city resources and money for personal gain by hosting personal events that benefit him and his family.
  • Expanding contracts and city projects because of benefits he allegedly receives from private companies as a result, such as limousine rides and other benefits
  • Misusing grant money and resources that resulted in the suspension or revocation of certain grant funding.

“The mayor has further utilized his position for personal gain by obtaining benefits from private entities, such as luxury vehicles, gifts, and other benefits not available to ordinary employees and citizens of Moss Point,” the lawsuit says.

Since the employees initially filed their complaints with the EEOC, the suits says, those who still work for the city “have been subjected to retaliation, suspension and reprimands by the mayor, mostly based upon the mayor falsely accusing the plaintiffs of insubordination and low work quality.”

King has had other problems since he took office.

On Oct. 20, 2017, King and his wife were arrested on misdemeanor charges of domestic violence simple assault. The pair were accused of assaulting one another at their Moss Point home.

The trial ended in the case’s dismissal after King and his wife refused to testify against one another during their trial in Jackson County Justice Court.

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