Grand Jury: Former VHA supervisor indicted for cocaine

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 8, 2009

Former Vicksburg Housing Authority supervisor Charles Jones Jr. was indicted by a Warren County Grand Jury Thursday on charges of possessing cocaine and possessing the drug with intent to distribute, with the possibility of being charged with stealing from his employer still looming in the background.

Circuit Judge Frank Vollor set a Nov. 30 trial date for Jones, who did not appear in court, electing to waive his right to an arraignment. He was represented by attorney Mike Bonner, who said attorney Travis Vance Jr. is also representing Jones.

Jones, 45, 924 Bowmar Ave., was arrested Dec. 19 by Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics agents and local officers during a traffic stop that allegedly turned up 2.2 pounds of cocaine. Police said Jones had the package delivered to him at the VHA administrative office at 131 Elizabeth Circle and had just picked it up before he was arrested. At $100 per gram, the street value of the cocaine is about $100,000. He was released from Warren County Jail on a $250,000 bond on Dec. 23.

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On the drug charges, Jones faces up to 46 years in prison if convicted and maximum terms are imposed consecutively. His punishments could be increased due to an enhancement included in his indictment that states Jones possessed guns in addition to the drugs.

To some degree, however, the charges have been overshadowed by a clash between the VHA director and Police Chief Tommy Moffet over ownership of thousands of dollars in merchandise seized from Jones’ home after the drug arrest.

Moffett and new VHA board members say the evidence chain makes clear the power tools, air compressors, lawn equipment and such were purchased with public funds, but director Jim Stirgus Sr. has not agreed and not taken action to recover the items or charge Jones, whom he said he considered a friend. Police also found an estimated 70 cases of beer and a half-dozen vehicles, including a Mercedes and Corvette, registered in Jones’ name at the home — one of six he owns in Vicksburg according to a public records search.

The Stirgus-Moffett rift centers on public comments by Stirgus that Moffett was not effective in keeping drugs out of VHA home and apartment complexes, a point squelched by Moffett, who said it took a five-year investigation to charge a key VHA insider, Jones, with drug trafficking.

VHA Chairman Jay Kilroy said Thursday he intends to ask the housing authority’s five-member board to approve filing formal charges against Jones at a special called meeting on Monday. Kilroy and three other board members have seen about $6,000 of items seized by the police. Kilroy said he has no doubt they were stolen by Jones.

A review of VHA purchase orders and inventory by the Jackson Housing and Urban Development office in January did not uncover any federal funds misappropriated by Jones. However, that review looked only at the most recent 15 months of data. Jones had worked for VHA since 1983 and had been in charge of maintenance, purchasing and receiving since 1991.

Moffett has also said he believes Jones was selling cocaine to residents of housing authority properties, which include about 430 apartments in Waltersville Estates, Beechwood Estates, Rolling Acres, Valley Court, Urban Court and Cedars Estates. VHA Executive Director Jim Stirgus Sr. has repeatedly said he is skeptical of Jones’ arrest and does not believe he stole from the housing authority.


Contact Steve Sanoski at