- Associated Press - Sunday, June 7, 2015

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - Documents allege that a decorated drug agent left the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics after being accused of forging papers to get money for drug buys, The Clarion-Ledger reports.

Jeff Palmer left the bureau in 2006, joining the Tishomingo County Sheriff’s Office in 2010. His retirement plaque describes him as an example to be followed and cherished.

More than 30 cases he brought as a deputy were recently dismissed at the district attorney’s request. District attorney’s spokesman Paul Howell said Palmer has more than once said that his health kept him from testifying.

Palmer, now a salesman at Barneys Police & Hunting Supplies in Tupelo, said he had open-heart surgery in 2013. He said the dismissals weren’t “my decision. I retired seven months ago.”

The newspaper reports that while he worked for the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics, Palmer was twice named agent of the year, but resigned a day after being suspended without pay in 2006.

It said he was accused of opening eight cases in another agent’s name, and forging 54 vouchers to buy evidence.

Palmer told the newspaper he forged signatures because he couldn’t sign out the money on his own, but never took any money for himself. He said he opened cases in other agents’ names because the Tupelo office, where he was captain, was short-handed.

A day after his suspension, his lawyer, Tony Farese, faxed the bureau’s attorney his client’s resignation letter along with a note. “As you know, Captain Palmer denied any criminal conduct in this matter, and you have represented to me that Director Fisher has assured us there will be no criminal action arising out of this disciplinary matter,” Farese wrote.

In a 2014 letter, the bureau’s lead counsel wrote that the agency concluded there was “no money actually diverted by Palmer. . There was no definitive determination as to whether Palmer financially benefitted.”

Fisher said he could not comment because it involved personnel matters.

Tishomingo County Sheriff Whitlock said he never saw any of the Narcotics Bureau’s allegations against Palmer.

Asked if Palmer’s work as a deputy, he said, Palmer “worked through the North Mississippi Narcotics Task Force. I never saw any of the paperwork.”

He praised Palmer. “He took drug dealers off the street. He seemed to be doing a good job. All of a sudden the DA drops all these charges.”

He said there weren’t any problems with the cases in question.

“They’re all documented,” he said. “Something smells like a dead opossum.”

___

Information from: The Clarion-Ledger, http://www.clarionledger.com

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