Agency head charged with intimidating witnesses

By The Associated Press

JACKSON — The director of an organization that claims to promote affordable housing in the Mississippi Delta has been charged with intimidating witnesses in a federal investigation.

South Delta Regional Housing Authority Director Ann Jefferson, 56, was arrested Monday on charges she retaliated against two employees and a woman who bought a house from the organization, Daniel McMullen, special agent in charge of the FBI in Mississippi, announced in a news release.

The three-count indictment said Jefferson began to retaliate against the witnesses when she found out they had been cooperating with investigators who were looking into alleged crimes committed by Jefferson and others. The court records did not say what the alleged crimes were.

Jefferson did not immediately respond to a message left Monday at South Delta Regional Housing Authority, which operates in Bolivar, Humphreys, Sunflower, Issaquena, Sharkey and Washington counties.

A woman who answered the phone said Jefferson was in a meeting.

Court records said Jefferson made work unbearable for one of the witnesses, a broker and accounts payable analyst for her organization, then had her fired. Jefferson later denied the woman’s unemployment application and refused to acknowledge her request for annual leave reimbursement or to purchase an extension of health care benefits, court records said.

Jefferson verbally abused another employee and withheld her pay, the indictment said.

The indictment also accuses Jefferson of refusing to accept proof of insurance and a money order for the first month’s mortgage payment from a woman who bought a home from the organization. The tenant allegedly was threatened with foreclosure.

The tenant was one of dozens of plaintiffs who sued South Delta Regional Housing Authority in 2009 after their rent more than doubled. That lawsuit is in settlement negotiations, according to court records.