Auditor says Jackson mayor can't use forfeited drug money

The state auditor says Mayor Frank Melton can't use forfeited drug money for police officer salaries, including pay raises for two former bodyguards.

Rick Hill, director of finance, said Tuesday that the city planned to move $298,000 from the Police Department's training budget into the general fund budget, where it would be used for salaries. That money would have been replaced with forfeited drug funds.

State Auditor Phil Bryant on Wednesday said the move was illegal.

"Funds properly forfeited pursuant to a court order may be used for any law enforcement purpose but must be used to augment the existing budget and not to supplant it," read a 1993 attorney general's opinion that Bryant provided.

Melton said he would seek the money from other sources.

Former bodyguard Michael Recio and current bodyguard Marcus Wright have not yet received pay increases. Their salary increases would amount to more than $42,000 combined.

Last week, Melton announced Recio's appointment to assistant chief and Wright's move to sergeant and head of the protective services division. Former patrol officer Nathaniel Rushing has replaced Recio as a bodyguard.