Lawyer denies drug charge

Published 5:00 am Friday, June 6, 2003

BROOKHAVEN, Miss. (AP) – A McComb attorney is denying chargesthat he sold marijuana to an inmate-client at the Lincoln CountyJail.

John E. Jackson, 54, was arrested Wednesday following anundercover operation at the jail, said Chris Picou, narcoticsofficer for the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department.

Jackson, contacted by telephone Thursday, denied bringing drugsto the jail and said he was framed by an habitual offender ”withnothing to lose and everything to gain.”

”This is ridiculous,” Jackson said. ”I believe something wasdone in exchange for him (the inmate) trying to set me up. I don’tmess with drugs, I never have and never will.”

Jackson said he asked the arresting officers to show him therecordings they claimed to have collected, ”but theyrefused.”

Jackson was charged with sale of marijuana inside a correctionalfacility. He was freed on a $5,000 bond after being questioned byauthorities.

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

Picou said an investigation began several weeks ago after astate probation officer received a tip that an attorney wasbringing cigarettes and marijuana 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 theWednesday action. ”We handled it just like we do any other drugcase.”

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.