C.J. LeMaster has served as WLBT’s Chief Investigative Reporter since April 2016.
Since then, he’s exposed problems with the Hinds County criminal justice system, highlighted potential secrecy regarding unethical conduct among Mississippi educators, revealed a prison extortion scheme that stretched across the state and investigated municipalities which violated state law by keeping documents from the public.
In one case, the Mississippi Ethics Commission ruled the city of Jackson violated the state's public records act by denying WLBT settlement agreements executed by the city as part of a 3 On Your Side investigation into the spending of taxpayer dollars.
Most recently, exclusive information uncovered during a 3 On Your Side investigation into recent deadly officer-involved shootings and a lack of transparency by the Jackson Police Department helped lead to a reversal in a decades-old city policy that once prevented the release of the names of officers responsible in those shootings.
You can check out C.J.'s latest investigative pieces here.
Before coming to the Capital City as a reporter and weekend anchor in December 2013, C.J. worked at WTVA/WLOV in Tupelo, Mississippi, for nearly a decade in several roles, some of that while pursuing a broadcast journalism degree from Mississippi State.
After graduation, he got hired as a reporter there and then went on to anchor some of the station’s top-rated newscasts.
C.J. was raised in Booneville, where he began his journalism career at Northeast Mississippi Community College. He worked in both print and television during his time in college.
Over the years, C.J. has received more than a dozen Mississippi Associated Press awards ranging from photography to public affairs reporting and achievement. In 2018, C.J.'s investigative piece, 3 On Your Side Investigates: Access Denied won Best Investigative Report in the Southeast Regional Emmy's Excellence in my Market Awards, where journalists from television markets across five states compete. That same year, judges with the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences recognized his investigative work on that story with an Emmy nomination.
In addition, several of C.J.’s stories warranted national coverage: among them, the active shooter situation at Delta State University, the historic April 2011 tornado outbreak and a 2013 ricin investigation that implicated a Mississippi man in a plot to poison President Barack Obama.
When he’s not working, C.J. enjoys finding new restaurants in central Mississippi and exploring the area with a camera to support his photography habit.
If you have something you want C.J. to look into, call the 3 On Your Side Investigates Line at 769-2300-TIP.
2018 Emmy Nomination, Best Investigative Report
2018 Excellence in my Market Award, Best Investigative Report
2017 AP Award, Best Investigative Report (Third Place)
2014 AP Award, Best Spot News
2013 AP Award, Best Feature Photography
2013 AP Award, Achievement
2013 AP Award, Franchise Reporting
2012 AP Award, Achievement
2012 AP Award, Franchise Reporting
2012 AP Award, Best News Photography
2012 AP Award, Best News Photography
2012 AP Award, Spot News Story
2011 AP Award, Best Feature Photography
2010 AP Award, Best Feature Story
2004 Emmy Nomination, First Down on FOX – WLOV-TV
Mississippi State University, Broadcasting/Public Relations
Less than a week after Mississippi became the first state nationwide to let its mask mandate expire, the Mississippi State Department of Health reports a surge in coronavirus cases not seen in seven weeks.
The Mississippi State Department of Health is calling a north Mississippi coroner’s claim that the department inaccurately recorded deaths as caused by COVID-19 -- even if the virus played no role in that death -- "ridiculous."
While there’s no shortage of social media comments from people who think Mississippi’s strategy to slow the spread of COVID-19 isn’t the right move, posts from current and former lawmakers echo some of those sentiments, including one dubbed “not accurate” by the state’s health officer.
Despite widespread claims on social media that concealed carry permit holders could violate state law if they choose to wear a mask, a 3 On Your Side analysis finds only two states consider that illegal, and Mississippi isn’t one of them.
Gov. Tate Reeves continues to stand behind his claim over the weekend that recent increases in coronavirus cases here are tied to protests that happened here, and he says the same is true nationally as well.
Tuesday’s record-high coronavirus cases in Mississippi -- coupled with slightly increasing virus-related hospitalizations -- could spell trouble for the state’s health care system, according to an internal medicine specialist who’s seen the impact for himself over the course of the pandemic.
Nearly four years after a Lowndes County grand jury indicted a Columbus cop for shooting and killing a black man, Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch has dismissed the case, citing a lack of evidence to prosecute.
Gov. Tate Reeves said Mississippi has learned invaluable lessons and strategies after dealing with the coronavirus pandemic now for the last two and a half months, a trial by fire of sorts for states across the U.S.
With hundreds of churches across the state planning how to re-open and protect their congregations from coronavirus in the process, the head of the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board said some leaders are considering temporary changes to worship services.
While hundreds of undocumented workers face potential charges and deportation following last week’s massive immigration raid, newly-unsealed court documents show a snapshot of the federal government’s case against the four companies also targeted in this investigation.