By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – The scope of a federal probe in Tupelo appears to have widened with investigators reportedly looking beyond just Police Department hiring practices.
It’s still unclear what prompted the U.S. Department of Justice visit this week or how many people have been interviewed. But at least one of those questioned said it involves allegations of serious corruption in the city.
Former police Capt. Cliff Hardy said he was interviewed Wednesday by federal agents – first privately, and then again as part of a group session with numerous community leaders, both black and white.
“I am unable to provide anyone’s identity due to their concerns for personal safety,” Hardy said in a written statement to the Daily Journal. “The subject matter included, but went far beyond the hiring practices of the Tupelo Police Department.
“What I believe to be evidence of corruption that exists within city of Tupelo government stemming from the past and present actions of the Tupelo Police Department was provided to the Department of Justice.”
Both interviews took place at the office of Tupelo attorney Jim Waide, who had told the Daily Journal earlier this week that federal agents also planned to question former Assistant Police Chief Robert Hall and former Officer Latana Williams.
Waide said Friday he couldn’t provide any more information.
“The investigator was very upset about the media knowing about the investigation,” he said. “They’d like for their investigations to be private. I disagree with it, but I don’t want them to say that I’m hindering the investigation.”
Justice officials also had interviewed Mayor Jack Reed Jr., police Chief Tony Carleton and city Human Resource Director Cassandra Moore. They were questioned Tuesday at the law firm of Mitchell McNutt & Sams, which provides legal work for Tupelo.
City attorney John Hill declined to comment on those interviews.
The Justice Department also declined to comment.