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Aberdeen mayor arrested on felony bribery charges

 

Jason Browne

 

ABERDEEN -- Aberdeen Police Assistant Chief Tommy Edwards confirmed reports today that Aberdeen Mayor Jim Ballard was arrested on felony bribery charges. 

 

Ballard turned himself in to the APD just before noon and was taken to the Monroe County Sheriff''s Department. 

 

Ballard''s arrest stems from a signed affidavit submitted by a customer of the Aberdeen Electric Department, where Ballard is serving as interim manager. 

 

Edwards says the bribe followed an argument over an electric bill between Ballard and the customer, but would not give specifics. Monroe360.com reports Monroe County bail bondsman Keith Morgan filed the affidavit March 12, but the report disappeared from the court clerk''s office. 

 

Ballard found out about the pending charges before police could present him with the charges. 

 

"I''m not sure how he found out, but he come down and said he understood we had papers on him," said Edwards. "I told him that, yes, we did and took him back to processing." 

 

Monroe360.com quoted APD Chief Henry Randle as saying the charge against Ballard was a misdemeanor, but Edwards says the way the affidavit is written designates the crime as a felony. 

 

Ballard now is free on $5,000 bond. Ballard, who has been serving as interim Aberdeen electric department manager since January, was accused by Morgan of offering Morgan $30 to keep quiet about a contested electric bill. 

 

Ballard was released on bond around 2 p.m. 

 

Ballard will be back in Municipal Court April 28, at which time a judge will decide if he will be held over for the Grand Jury, which will decide if Ballard will be held over for circuit court.

 

 

 

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