Controversial Miss. Mayor Dies After Losing Primary

Unorthodox leader faced upcoming federal trial
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 7, 2009 6:44 AM CDT
Jackson Mayor Frank Melton, left, and his attorney John Reeves, leave the federal courthouse in Jackson, Miss., Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2009.   (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
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(Newser) – The mayor of Jackson, Miss., died early today, less than 2 days after losing a re-election bid in a contentious Democratic primary that came a week before his second federal trial, the AP reports. Frank Melton, 60, who had a history of heart problems, was to be tried on civil-rights charges over a sledgehammer attack on what he considered to be a crackhouse.

Prosecutors say he was drunk on scotch and power when he ordered a group of young men to destroy the duplex in a poor neighborhood. Melton was known for his unorthodox style, rising to fame with a regular opinion piece on a local TV station he owned in which he called out criminals and slammed public officials. He often lectured youths in poor neighborhoods on responsibility, “unofficially adopting” many, the Clarion-Ledger notes.