U.S. District Judge Walter Nixon of Mississippi accepted a share in three oil wells as a bribe in a drug smuggling case, a federal grand jury charged today in a four-count indictment.
The indictment said Nixon, chief judge of the Southern District of Mississippi, accepted $60,000 in mineral royalties to three oil and gas wells from businessman Wiley Fairchild, of Hattiesburg, Miss.
The indictment said Fairchild's son, Drew, was a suspect in a drug-smuggling conspiracy case.
Wiley Fairchild was also indicted on charges of giving perjured testimony to the grand jury investigating the case.
The indictment alleges that he offered the royalties to Nixon in February, 1981, in exchange for Nixon's assistance in helping his son fight the drug-smuggling charges.
It said Nixon asked his longtime friend, Dist. Atty. Paul Holmes, to "do what he could" to help Drew Fairchild.
The younger Fairchild eventually pleaded guilty and is serving a six-month prison term.
Nixon, 55, pleaded innocent to all charges and was released on his own recognizance.
New Orleans attorney Michael Fowler, who represented the judge, said he has asked Chief Judge Charles Clark of the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals to relieve Nixon of his duties pending trial.