Police Issue Arrest Warrant for Mississippi Mayor for Probation Violations

An arrest warrant was issued Thursday for the mayor of Mississippi's largest city on charges that he violated terms of his probation, which had been set because of misdemeanor weapons charges, officials said.

Mayor Frank Melton, who recently had heart surgery, checked himself in to a hospital later Thursday with chest pains, said his attorney, Dale Danks Jr. The Hinds County Sheriff's Department has agreed to wait until Friday to meet with the mayor, Danks said.

"Mayor Melton is of the opinion he's done everything he's supposed to do in compliance with his probation, and he was quite surprised," Danks said.

The mayor, 57, pleaded no contest in November to a misdemeanor charge of carrying a pistol on a college campus and guilty to two other misdemeanor weapons violations. Danks said the new warrant stems from complaints several weeks ago about violating curfew.

"He was involved in going with the police department with some interdiction programs, and he spent the night out a couple of nights with some families, and the bottom line appears to be violation of curfews," Danks said.

Sheriff Malcolm McMillin would not specify which probationary terms Melton may have violated.

Melton is a wealthy former television executive and one-time state drug enforcement agency chief. He won a landslide election in 2005 on the promise of rooting out crime in Jackson.

He became a fixture on nightly newscasts, wearing fatigues, carrying guns and criticizing the district attorney's office for not putting criminals away. He became a common sight cruising the inner city with police and often took troubled children back to his home in a gated community.

He avoided jail time on the weapons charges and was allowed to stay in office under a plea deal that reduced the felony charge of carrying a weapon on a campus to a misdemeanor. A felony conviction would have forced him from office.

Melton was given a six-month suspended sentence on each count, one year of probation and fined $1,500. If he is found to have violated the terms of his probation, he could be forced to serve out his sentence.

He returned to work recently after heart bypass surgery.

Residents and media members have noted what they say are potential probation violations, among them that Melton continued to use the Police Department's mobile command center; that he broke curfew without notifying his probation officer; that he left town for his surgery without clearing the trip; that he allowed a teenager to live in his home; and that he participated with police in the inspection of a nightclub well after his curfew.

In addition, the mayor and his two former bodyguards will stand trial April 23, accused of having roles in the use of sledge hammers in August to damage a building the mayor considered a drug haven.

Melton and Jackson police Detectives Marcus Wright and Michael Recio were charged with malicious mischief, two counts of conspiracy and directing a minor to commit a felony. Melton and Wright also were indicted on a burglary charge.