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Lawyer arrested in drug bust at jail

A McComb defense attorney is himself facing drug charges afterallegedly selling marijuana to a client during a visit in theLincoln County Jail, authorities said.

John E. Jackson, 54, of 225 South Fourth St., McComb, wasarrested Wednesday afternoon following an undercover operationTuesday in the jail, said Chris Picou, narcotics officer for theLincoln County Sheriff’s Department. Jackson, who was charged withsale of marijuana inside a correctional facility, was released on a$5,000 bond after being questioned by authorities.

Picou said an investigation began several weeks ago afterMississippi Department of Corrections Probation Officer John Purserreceived a tip that an attorney was bringing cigarettes andmarijuana into the jail.

“Based on the information he gave us, we went to the jail anddid a search that turned up a bag of marijuana,” Picou said.

Picou said authorities developed an informant and waited for theopportunity to conduct the operation. The officer declined toidentify the informant, other than to acknowledge he was one ofJackson’s clients.

“The case was videotaped and audiotaped,” Picou said of theTuesday action. “We handled it just like we do any other drugcase.”

Sale of marijuana inside a correctional facility carries athree- to seven-year prison sentence and a fine of up to $25,000,Picou said. Jackson could also be disbarred if convicted of afelony, Picou said.

“It’s not every day you catch something like this,” Picousaid.

Picou said meetings between attorneys and their clients areusually not allowed to be recorded.

“The only way we were to do this was we had a cooperatingparty,” Picou said. “The attorney-client privilege belongs to theclient.”

Picou said drugs are valuable on the street and even more soinside the jail.

Attempts to get drugs into the jail is a concern, said LincolnCounty Sheriff Lynn Boyte. He said attorneys have access to theirclients 24 hours a day, but that privilege appears to have beenabused in this case.

“In spite of all we check, who would have thought you would haveto worry about something like this,” Boyte said. “It’s just anothereye-opener to the public about what’s going on here.”

Boyte said he and Brookhaven Police Chief Pap Henderson learnedof the suspected activity at almost the same time. The departmentswere able to work with the Southwest MississippiInterjurisdictional Narcotics Unit in carrying out the case.

“They’ve been very instrumental in working with us,” Boytesaid.

John Douglas, SMINU deputy commander assigned to the unit fromthe Brookhaven Police Department, agreed.

“It was a team effort,” Douglas said.

Henderson said the case was handled like any other and thedepartments were able to work well together.

“That’s our job, to stop illegal activity here in Brookhaven andLincoln County,” Henderson said.