Engineer claims Canton official offered to kill journalist, Madison mayor

Rudy Warnock (Photo: WJTV)

MADISON COUNTY, Miss. (WJTV) – An engineer hired by the Canton Municipal Utility Board (CMU) is claiming that a commissioner of the board offered to hire others to kill the Madison mayor and a Madison County journalist.

Rudy Warnock’s attorney, David Humphreys released the affidavit to WJTV about the allegations.

The affidavit claims that Warnock’s firm, Warnock Engineering, was hired in August of 2016 as the engineering firm for CMU, and the Board terminated its services with Waggoner Engineer.

Later in the same month, Warnock said the Madison County Journal ran a story with the headline “Warnock new CMU engineer as ousted utility chairman alleges corruption.”

The affidavit claims that Warnock mentioned the article to Cleveland Anderson, who was the commissioner of CMU at that time. Warnock claims the title was misleading.

He alleges that a few weeks later, Anderson told him he had family in New Orleans and Chicago would “handle” Michael Simmons, the journalist who wrote the article. Warnock said Anderson offered to have Simmons murdered for $10,000.

Warnock said in the affidavit that a few weeks later, Anderson also offered to have Madison Mayor Mary Hawkins-Butler killed for the same price. Warnock said his wife was present when the comment was made. Warnock said on both occasions, he turned down Anderson’s offer.

He also claimed that Anderson requested kickbacks. He said Anderson asked to increase the Warnock Engineering contract amount by $200,000 so that he and his wife could retire comfortably.

Other allegations in the affidavit mention that Anderson attempted to hire some of his family members and friends to positions at CMU, for inflated amounts. Warnock claims the candidates were not qualified.

He said that after these instances, Anders tried to terminate Warnock Engineering from all CMU work.

The affidavit was signed and notarized on Wednesday.

WJTV reached out to Mayor Hawkins-Butler about the allegations.

“If this, in fact, is the truth, this is a very serious situation and I hope that the authorities are digging deep to get to the truth.” – Mary Hawkins-Butler

The Madison County Journal Publisher James E. Prince III published a statement online about the alleged threat made against Simmions

Read the full statement below:

We have been aware of the alleged threats for some time and made the proper contact with law enforcement authorities at that time to ensure the safety and well-being of all of our employees. At no time has this alleged threat risen to anything more than the usual drama associated with Madison County politics, which we are far more comfortable reporting on than being a part of. Michael Simmons has done an exemplary job fulfilling the First Amendment role of the press to hold public officials accountable since he, following a long line of others who have reported the truth, took the helm at the Journal speaking truth to power, which includes the board members of Canton Municipal Utilities and their now former engineer. Frankly, we would expect to be in their crosshairs if we’re doing our job. Telling the truth carries a price and this spectacle illustrates precisely why.


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