Embattled Hancock County Coroner Jim Faulk has resigned.
Faulk said in a resignation letter that he had been diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer and had been undergoing numerous treatments in Hancock County, at Memorial Hospital Gulfport and at the Emory Winship Institute in Atlanta, Ga.
Faulk said he was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer some time last year and was prescribed medication to treat the cancer.
Earlier this year, Faulk contracted COVID-19 and was hospitalized as a result. He said doctors told him he had suffered congestive heart failure. Both the medication and COVID-19, Faulk said, can cause congestive heart failure.
Faulk’s certification has been suspended since March, and he was accused of failing to comply with mandatory reporting to Child Protective Services; failure to report overdose deaths to the Bureau of Narcotics; failure to comply with adequate preservation of evidence; and failure to submit correct documentation.
Pearl River County Coroner Derek Turnage has handled the coroner’s duties in Hancock County since Faulk’s suspension.
Faulk said in late March that state and MBN agents executed at least two search warrants for the Hancock County Coroner’s Office — one at his home office and one at the county coroner’s office.
Faulk said at the time that at least four vehicles with multiple state and MBN agents made a surprise visit to his Bay St. Louis home, where he often works. Agents also produced a search warrant for the county office, which is also located in Bay St. Louis, Faulk said.
“They took everything they wanted,” Faulk said. “They ransacked everything, even pulled up some of the floor boards and searched the attic.”
Faulk said among the items agents seized during the raids was a bag of empty prescription bottles which originally contained prescription medication collected by his office at death scenes.
Faulk said his office had already previously destroyed those medications and others. More prescription medications that had not yet been destroyed, Faulk said, were also seized.
Faulk said articles of clothing belonging to the deceased and any other items his department had collected from death scenes and kept stored at the office were also seized. Those items, Faulk said, were used to assist in his death investigations.
Computers, cellphones and other office supplies were also taken by agents during the search, he said.
Faulk said he felt personally attacked by the investigation and seizures.
Although Faulk said he did not know of any specific allegations, he said agents alluded to various “wrongdoings” during the search.
Turnage still serves as interim coroner.
As of Monday, the Hancock County Board of Supervisors was expected to schedule a special election to replace Faulk for Nov. 2.
Candidates interested in running for Hancock County coroner may pick up qualifying information in the Hancock County Circuit Clerk’s office at 152 Main ST., Suite 8, Bay St. Louis. Qualifying is open immediately and will end on Sept. 3 at 5 p.m.
For more, please call the circuit clerk’s office at 228-467-5265.