By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal
ABERDEEN – Charges were dropped late Wednesday against Pastor Ricky Bowen with an 11th-hour plea deal in which he agreed not to sue the Aberdeen Police Department for his prosecution.
“Pastor Bowen wants to go on without controversy, and that’s OK,” said his attorney, Jim Waide of Tupelo after the decision was announced by prosecutor, Robert Faulk.
In city court proceedings that lasted more than six hours, Judge Adrian Haynes presided over conflicting testimony, attorney arguments and a boisterous crowd approaching 150 at its height.
Bowen, who broke down in tears on the witness stand, said all he wanted to do was reveal corruption in his hometown. “If what I did was wrong, I am sorry,” he said late in the day.
After the announcement, Bowen reacted, saying “It’s a great day – I’ll take a dismissal any day.”
He was arrested in January on charges he obstructed justice by not turning over documents to the Aberdeen Police Department and that he possessed stolen goods, a city Electric Department water meter determined to be used to steal power.
Update from earlier today below.
ABERDEEN – A state auditor’s investigator said this morning that Mayor Jim Ballard feared he might lose the black vote if he accepted a city electric meter, some considered evidence in the alleged theft of electricity.
Michael Brownlee said the mayor eventually took possession of the device and left the impression he would turn it over to the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department because he didn’t trust the city police.
Brownlee’s testimony began a City Court hearing, presided over by Judge Adrian Haynes, into accusations Pastor Ricky Bowen obstructed justice and received stolen property – the meter.
Bowen and other contacted the auditor’s office last November to begin talks about their concerns that Aberdeen residents were stealing electric power.
Tupelo attorney Jim Waide represents Bowen, with Robert Faulk the city’s attorney.
The hearing resumes about 1:30 p.m. More than 150 people were in the city courtroom audience when proceedings began at 9 this morning.
Brownlee admitted he also was investigating the city’s Electric Department, which has been the subject of much public outcry recently about billing and possible corruption.
Other arrests have been made relating to the department and its operations, including its now-ex-manager Adrian Garth, charged with two counts of felony extortion.
Read more on this story in Thursday’s NEMS Daily Journal newspaper.