Jones County Circuit Judge under investigation

JONES COUNTY, MS (WDAM) - Since the 1960s there has never been but one name on the ballot for circuit court judge in Jones County, but now the current, long time judge has three challengers so far and an open investigation.

J. Ronald Parrish, Noel Rogers and Dal Williamson all have thrown their hats into the ring to challenge Jones County Circuit Judge Billy Joe Landrum. However, all three say the rumored investigation has nothing to do with their candidacy.

"I've heard in recent days and read about rumors of an investigation in the programs of the circuit court," said candidate Dal Williams during his announcement Wednesday. "I happen to believe that the purpose of these court administrative programs is good and they should continue."

Those rumors that are floating around Jones County about an investigation are true, but it's those administrative programs and the way they are being administered that's at the heart of the state auditor's investigation.

When asked if there was an open investigation going on with Judge Landrum, communications director to the state auditor's office said, "Yes, we can confirm we have an investigation but cannot comment any further."

"I am not going to be run out of office and let the governor appoint somebody else to sit in this court house," said Judge Landrum by phone.

Judge Landrum said the investigation has to do with the community service program. The program is for those who are either in jail or on probation and have to do community service work for the county. They pay a supervision fee of $50 monthly, which goes into a community service program.

The judge oversees the program and uses the money to buy equipment, which he admits he keeps at his farm.

When asked about the program, the judge said, "I started it years ago, it was going to be my legacy, now they are trying to beat me over the head with it."

Out of the fund, a truck was bought which Judge Landrum admits taking to Orange Beach once to deliver some furniture. He said that's the only thing he's done wrong and said he's told the state auditor he would repay the mileage, but apparently that didn't satisfy.

Judge Landrum said, "This is a political witch hunt. I want to get this thing behind me so I can get back to running my court and running my election."

It's unknown if and when the state auditor's office will release its findings on the investigation, but one thing is for certain, it's a four man race so far and there's still three weeks left for other candidates to jump in the race.

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