Lawsuit against Moffett dismissed

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 10, 2002

[07/10/02]A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit that was pending against Vicksburg Police Chief Tommy Moffett before his employment here, confirming Moffett’s earlier statement that the suit was bogus.

U.S. District Judge David Bramlette granted Moffett and the City of Biloxi, where he was previously chief, summary judgment, meaning the case will not go to trial.

The complaint had been filed March 7, 2001, by Evelyn Mason, a Biloxi woman who claimed she had been deprived of her civil rights.

Summary judgment is appropriate in cases when the record shows that there is no genuine issue of material fact to be tried, Bramlette wrote in an order granting the defendants’ motion which he signed Monday.

Mason accused Moffett of using his authority as director of police to harass her after she rejected what she called “sexual advances.” One of the alleged acts of harassment was arresting Mason’s son, Broderick Williams, for alleged drug involvement on Sept. 22, 1998.

“The mere fact that Judge Bramlette entered a summary judgment is a clear indication that the lawsuit was without merit,” Moffett said Tuesday, “and I can assure my friends in Vicksburg as well as my enemies that no matter what’s filed as it relates to this particular incident it will be dismissed because there’s no merit to it.

“When you do your job, you make enemies,” he added. “I’ll continue to make enemies because I’ll continue to do my job.”

Williams was one of eight to 12 people arrested in “a major investigation of significant drug traffickers in the Biloxi area,” said Ed Dickey, resident agent in charge of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency’s Gulfport Resident Office.

Williams pleaded guilty on Jan. 1, 1999, to a three-count federal indictment that included conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute crack cocaine, Dickey said. He was sentenced on April 6, 1999, and is serving a 12 1/2-year prison term, to be followed by five years’ post-release supervision, Dickey said.

Vicksburg’s elected officials, who hired Moffett two weeks after he retired in Biloxi for $18,000 more than he was making there, said they were not told about the $1.35 million suit before they hired Moffett, but they did not care since he continues to do an excellent job here.

Moffett, 52, had been with the Biloxi department since 1973. He is being paid $80,000 per year compared to $56,000 for former Chief Mitchell Dent who left the department after being demoted.