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Pear River prosecutor charged with selling “Stay out of Jail” cards

The official in charge of prosecuting criminal defendants in Pearl River County is himself facing prosecution after charges he traded entrance into a pre-trial diversion program for money. A pre-trail diversion keeps the defendant from incarceration.

The indictments against Aaron Russell list one count of altering public records and one count of committing fraud by a public official.

Special Agents of the Auditor’s Office and Pearl River County Sheriff Deputies arrested Russell at his home Wednesday and took him to the Pearl River County jail for booking.

Russell, 50, is accused of setting up and executing an unauthorized pretrial diversion program in which he accepted money from defendants in return for their charges being dropped.

“Mr. Russell circumvented the justice system when he created and implemented an unauthorized diversion program,” State Auditor Stacy Pickering said. “Mr. Russell is an elected official who abused his position and he will be held accountable for his actions.”

Russell is serving his second term as county prosecuting attorney.

Larry Baker of the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office is prosecuting the case.



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