JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - Mayor Frank Melton was elected on a
promise to clean up Mississippi's largest city and run thugs and
dealers out of town. He passed out cowboy hats at his first City
Council meeting before hitting the streets wearing guns and a
Three years later, the tough-talking former television executive
is facing felony charges that could send him from City Hall to
prison. He was indicted with two police bodyguards in July on
charges related to the August 2006 sledgehammer destruction of a
duplex apartment the mayor considered a crack house. The trial
Melton hasn't denied leading a group of teenagers and young men
- some with criminal records - to the home or participating in its
destruction. But, he has said, it was a sincere effort to rid a
poor, crime-ridden neighborhood of a haven for illegal drug
distribution and prostitution.
Federal prosecutors call it a "whiskey soaked, arbitrary
exercise of power and violence."
A gag order prevents both sides from discussing the case. The
defendants pleaded not guilty.