SOUTHAVEN, Miss. — An alderman from Mississippi’s third-largest city has resigned after being charged with transporting child pornography.

An indictment charges Ronnie Hale, 57, of Southaven, of bringing computer files with “visual depictions of minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct” across state lines from Tennessee into Mississippi on Nov. 22

Anthony Farese, Hale’s lawyer, tells The Commercial Appeal of Memphis that Hale quit his elected post shortly after pleading not guilty in federal court in Oxford.

“We then went to the city of Southaven, where Mr. Hale tendered his resignation as alderman to Mayor (Darren) Musselwhite,” Farese said. “Mr. Hale thought that was in the best interest of the city, for the members of his ward. He wanted to do the right thing, and this will give him time to focus on his criminal matters.”

Hale was arrested last month and charged with procuring a prostitute. Farese says that a search warrant based on that charge led to the pornography being found on an electronic device. Farese didn’t know if it was found on a laptop or cell phone.

Hale is free on $5,000 bail. U.S. Magistrate Judge Roy Percy set a Feb. 5 trial date. Hale faces five to 20 years in prison and fines up to $250,000 if convicted.

Hale will also be back in court on the prostitution charge Jan. 10, where he’s accused of communicating with a woman and promising her money for sex.

The City of Memphis relieved Hale of duty as a firefighter following the prostitution arrest pending the outcome of an investigation.

Musselwhite says Southaven will seek to set a special election to fill Hale’s post early next year.


Information from: The Commercial Appeal, http://www.commercialappeal.com