Melton ex-bodyguard wants to be jailer

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 26, 2009

JACKSON (AP) — A former bodyguard accused of participating in a vigilante raid with late Jackson Mayor Frank Melton wants his probation revised so he can work as a jailer and also carry a gun.

Melton and his two bodyguards, who were Jackson police officers at the time, were charged with participating in the August 2006 sledgehammer destruction of a Jackson duplex.

Prosecutors said Melton ordered the raid because he believed the duplex was a crack house, but he was never convicted of a crime related to the incident. Melton died in May at age 60 before his third trial was to begin.

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The bodyguards pleaded guilty to lesser charges in the federal case after being acquitted along with Melton in state court.

Former bodyguard Michael Recio was sentenced on Sept. 10 to three months under house arrest, one year probation and a $500 fine on a misdemeanor deprivation of rights charge. He was prohibited from getting another law enforcement job until his probation is over.

Recio’s attorney filed a motion this week saying his family is struggling financially even though he has a full-time job. The motion says Recio and his family are about to lose their insurance coverage. He’s been looking for a second job, the document said.

‘‘The only job that he has been able to find is as a jailer with the Hinds County Sheriff’s Department. The sheriff, Malcolm McMillin, is aware of the conviction, the conditions of probation and this pleading,’’ the motion said. ‘‘As a jailer, Mr. Recio would not be required to carry a firearm.’’

Still, the motion asks later for permission to carry a gun.

Federal prosecutors responded Thursday, arguing there’s no legal basis to grant Recio’s request, that he hasn’t made an effort to pay restitution or own up to his role in the crime and he ‘‘is simply undeserving of relief.’’

‘‘First, his sentence was not particularly harsh,’’ prosecutors wrote. ‘‘He was given the benefit of a short period of home confinement despite a fairly egregious betrayal of the public trust.’’

As for McMillin, the longtime sheriff told The Associated Press he would have no problem hiring Recio in spite of his conviction, but no job has been offered yet.

‘‘When he gets through with the pleading we’ll certainly consider him for a job’’ if his probation is revised, McMillin said.

The judge didn’t immediately rule on the matter.

Recio’s attorney wrote in court papers that he had ‘‘limited involvement’’ in the duplex raid and ‘‘that his was a crime of omission rather than commission’’ so ‘‘it is reasonable to revise probation to permit him to maintain this employment.’’

Melton and the bodyguards were accused of leading a group of young men to break windows and tear down walls of the home, among other things. Recio has maintained that he didn’t take an active role in the destruction.

Prosecutors said the court filing ‘‘continues to demonstrate that Recio has never fully accepted responsibility for his conduct.’’

‘‘As he agreed in the accepted statement of facts, he drove the young men to the house — twice — where the damage was inflicted’’ and he had ‘‘an affirmative responsibility to stop the constitutional violations that he facilitated and witnessed.’’

Recio and Wright were also ordered to pay restitution to the homeowner and occupant in the case, though they have been unable to agree on an amount, according to court records. A restitution hearing is set for Jan. 20.