JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – New Jerusalem Church Pastor Dwayne Pickett has filed a lawsuit against Councilman Aaron Banks (Ward 6) and Councilwoman Virgi Lindsay (Ward 7) allegeding false bribery claims.

Pickett said Banks started rumors that he offered the councilman $20,000 for a vote regarding the National Waste United contract. He said Banks also told Lindsay that he offered him $50,000 for a vote, and she later told Jackson Mayor Chokwe A. Lumumba.

The contract in question is with National Waste United, which is a company Pickett thought was best for the sanitation workers.

Pickett said the last time he and Banks had a discussion was in August 2021, and the discussion was about FCC Environmental Services; one of the three firms that responded to the city’s request for proposals for a solid waste contract.

The pastor said it’s a painful situation because he and Banks’ friendship runs 20-plus years.

“I can’t even fathom in my mind why he would make such an accusation. It has literally kept me up at night,” said Pickett.

He added, “It’s pretty serious to me because it has to do with my profession, has to do with my future, has to do with people trusting what I say and what I do.”

Pickett’s attorney, Tremarcus Rosemon with Rosemon Law Firm, said he’s prepared to take the steps necessary to clear his client’s name.

“Mr. Banks and Ms. Lindsey will have an opportunity to answer the allegations. If neither Mr. Banks or Ms. Lindsey is in the position to do so, then my client and I will continue to proceed strongly with litigation to recover damages which were caused by their defamation,” said Rosemon.

In response to the lawsuit, Banks released the following statement:

It is unfortunate that as leaders we find ourselves here, when there are so many other issues that we must bring relief for. The gun violence, crime and homicides, along with sewer overflows and water leaks that constituents face everyday is the priority of my office. However, I look forward, and I am anxious for the truth to come out in court.

I am a bit surprised that this lawsuit was filed, simply because it is a substantively without merit, and a distraction from the actual business of government. But now that I have been named, I anticipate that you will see a vigorous defense, and to that end would refer further comment to my attorney.

Councilman Aaron Banks, Ward 6

Currently, Waste Management will collect the city’s garbage through March 2022.