Several law enforcement agencies complained that Hinds County District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith repeatedly dropped cases against suspects that had ties to him or his staff in several documents that were unsealed today. JPD complained about the treatment of these suspects while the FBI apparently asked the Mississippi Attorney General in February to investigate the District Attorney. Special Circuit Judge Larry Roberts ordered several cases unsealed after the Clarion-Ledger challenged their sealing at a hearing held two weeks ago.
One of the cases was cause no. 16-120 (The case has no actual name.). Cause 16-120 began with a motion to recall the grand jury and to appoint the Mississippi Attorney General as a Pro Tem Prosecutor. Hinds County Senior District Judge Tomie Green sealed the case. The motion charges the District Attorney was not prosecuting cases because of the relationships between Mr. Smith and several defendants. The motion states:
On or about July 20, 2015, the U.S. Department of Justice through its agents at the Federal Bureau of Investigation s (F.B.I.) formally requested the assistance of the Office of the Attorney via written request. (See attached)
The request alleged that several cases, both violent and non-violent, had not been prosecuted by the Hinds County District Attorney's Office. The request went on to opine that the cases had not been pursued because all of the defendants have a relationship with Donald (Darnell) Turner. (Mr. Turner is currently a defendant in a case prosecuted by the Attorney General.)
The F.B.I has determined that the District Attorney (DA) and Mr. Turner are good friends and it is because of this friendship that the (DA) has chosen not to prosecute the instant cases.
Additionally, Deandra (Dee) Parker, the mother of two of Mr.Turner's children, is an employee at the District Attorney's office. According to records, Ms. Parker signed for one of the cases that has not been prosecuted by the DA's office. (See attached)...
Due to the forementioned conflict of interest of the DA's office and in order to avoid the appearance of impropriety, the State requests that the Court make a finding of fact pursuant to Section 25-31-21 of the Mississippi Code that the District Attorney and any employees of that office are disqualified and prohibited from any involvement with the presentation of the above cases to the Grand Jury including but not limited to the prohibition of the DA and his employees from being present during the presentation of the cases to the Grand Jury.
The motion was filed by Assistant Attorney General Stanley Alexander. Mr. Alexander ran against Mr. Smith for Hinds County District attorney in 2015. Judges Bill Gowan and Winston Kidd recused themselves from the case. The case is assigned to Judge Jeff Weill. Judge Weill issued an order on April 7 that is still sealed.
However, JPD also weighed in against the District Attorney. FBI Special Agent Robert Culpepper submitted a rather letter to the Special Assistant Attorney General Marvin Sanders that was rather damning in its allegations:
In response to the inquiry regarding certain criminal cases originating in Hinds County that are being considered for prosecution by your office, the following information is contained in the relevant investigative files:
Donald (aka "Darnell") Turner is a close, personal associate of Hinds County District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith. Turner and Smith have a relationship that goes back many years. Extensive reporting indicates that Turner has been involved in a wide range of criminal activity but has never been charged by Smith's office. As recently as November of 2014, Turner was arrested by the Jackson Police Department for an aggravated domestic violence incident, but was not indicted by the District Attorney's Office.
Turner owns a trucking company, Southern Miss Transport LLC, that is under investigation for being a front for drug trafficking. James Mangum, the son of one of Turner's truck drivers, was involved in a homicide as part of a drug deal in Jackson in2014. Mangum was arrested for the murder by the Jackson Police Department, but was never indicted by the District Attorney's Office.
Tommy White was arrested by the Jackson Police Department in2013 for possession of marijuana with intent to distribute. White is reported to be an associate of Turner and a strong supporter of Robert Shuler Smith. White's case has never been indicted by the District Attorney. The Police Department recently inquired about the status of the case and was told by a representative of the District Attorney that they never received the case. The Jackson Police Department retained a receipt :from the District Attorney's Office, however, proving that the case had been dropped off inMay of 2014. The District Attorney's Office employee who signed for the case was Deondra (aka "Dee") Parker. Parker is the mother of two of Donald Turner's children and has been suspected of deliberately pulling cases related to Turner and his associates.
It has been extensively reported that Robert Shuler Smith maintains an improper relationship with local business owners of Indian descent. The reporting suggests that Smith shields the store owners from criminal prosecution for illicit activity that is conducted at their business locations. Chirag Kharbanda, the owner of the former Express Fuel Store on Northside Drive in Jackson, has been arrested multiple times by the Jackson Police Department for a variety of crimes and is under active investigation for drug trafficking. Reporting suggests that Smith's office has deliberately avoided prosecuting Kharbanda due to Smith's ties to the store owning community.
Kingfish note: Hmm.... Chirag Kharbanda..... where have we heard that name before? Check out this earlier post.