Ballard’s arrest circulates questions

By Jeff Clark/Monroe Journal

ABERDEEN – A day after the arrest of Mayor Jim Ballard, questions continued to circulate about the bribery charge he now faces.
Ballard, also the interim manager of the electric department, turned himself in Thursday to the Aberdeen Police Department after a warrant was issued for his arrest. Ballard was released on a $5,000 bond and his case will be heard by a Monroe County grand jury.
The arrest stems from an affidavit filed by bail bondsman Keith Morgan, who alleges Ballard gave him $30 after a disagreement at the Aberdeen Electric Department.
“I can’t believe (Ballard) would continue to bully us citizens and then have the arrogance and audacity to attempt to give me money to ‘make me go away’ and buy my silence of the incredibly obvious mishandling of my concerns about my electric bill,” Morgan said in his affidavit.
“I knew I was not going to accept money for my silence.”
According to Morgan’s affidavit, Ballard was arrested because he allegedly did “willfully, unlawfully, feloniously and corruptly offer a gift of $30 to Keith Morgan when he was at the electric department to ask questions about his bill.” The code listed on the affidavit is Mississippi Code 97-9-5 Bribery.
The code, which is listed as “Bribery; jurors, arbitrators, and referees,” applies to “any person drawn, summoned, chosen, or appointed as a juror, arbitrator or referee” who takes or receives “any gratuity, gift or reward” to influence a decision.
When questioned about the charges, Aberdeen Assistant Chief of Police Tommy Edwards said he didn’t fill out the affidavit and could not comment on how the charges applied to Ballard’s arrest.
Although Ballard declined to comment on his arrest, a close friend and supporter said he was doing well.
“I’ve talked to Jim several times,” said Marsha Ballard, a former relative by marriage. “He is doing well and he seems to be in good spirits – he’s doing some yard work and gardening. I think we all are ready for him to come back to work on Monday and get back to city business.”

Contact Jeff Clark at jeff.clark@monroe360.com.