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Officials: No favor sought for attorney after DUI arrest

January 7, 2019

TUPELO, Miss. (AP) — The mayor of northeast Mississippi’s largest city says he and other officials didn’t try to shield the city attorney from a drunk-driving arrest.

The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reports Tupelo Mayor Jason Shelton, Chief Operations Officer Don Lewis and Police Chief Bart Aguirre all say they made no efforts to secure favorable treatment for Ben Logan.

“There was absolutely no effort made by anyone to keep Mr. Logan from getting a ticket,” Shelton said. “That’s the crux of the matter.”

Logan was arrested Dec. 7 but was never booked into the Lee County Jail, unlike most other people arrested on the same charge. Instead, Mississippi Highway Patrol troopers wrote Logan a ticket after he refused to take a breathalyzer test and released him to a Tupelo police officer.

Logan has pleaded not guilty, with a trial set May 2 in Lee County Justice Court.

Phone records obtained by the Daily Journal through a public records request show Lewis and Aguirre made or received a number of calls around the time of the incident, but didn’t contact the Highway Patrol. Aguirre said troopers released Lewis to police Lt. Marty Mask without any prompting.

Lewis said he was first called by Logan’s girlfriend, but said her account was unclear.

“She was somewhat emotional. I wasn’t completely clear of the situation,” Lewis said. “I just wanted to make sure everything was OK.”

Aguirre called Lee County Sheriff Jim Johnson shortly after learning of Logan’s arrest. Johnson runs the jail, but the newspaper reports his agency appears to have had no involvement in Logan’s arrest or release. Aguirre also sent Mask to the jail. City officials said they wanted to find out more about Logan’s arrest, including whether he was driving a city vehicle.

“When Marty (Mask) pulled up, he saw Ben standing with two highway patrol officers,” Aguirre said. “He got out of his car and was standing in front of his car and one of the officers approached him.”

Tupelo’s police chief said the two troopers privately conferred for about 10 minutes and then a trooper approached Mask again with Logan.

“The trooper said we’re going to release Ben to you, make sure he gets home safely, and handed Ben his driver’s license and ticket,” Aguirre said.

Aguirre said Logan got into a car driven by his girlfriend and the two left. It was previously incorrectly reported that a police officer drove Logan home.

Text messages show Logan sent a message to Shelton reporting arrival at home. Minutes later, he then texted, “I’m sorry.”

The Highway Patrol provided a copy of an incident report but declined to answer questions.

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Information from: Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, http://djournal.com

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