Dukes, Holmes disqualified as legal counsel in Bolton federal trial

Dukes, Holmes disqualified as legal counsel in Bolton federal trial
A pair of local attorneys have been disqualified from representing Charles Bolton in federal court. Source: WDAM

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - A pair of Hub City attorneys have been disqualified as legal counsel in a federal trial involving Forrest County Sheriff's Department Chief Deputy Charles Bolton and his wife, Linda Bolton.

Attorneys Paul H. Holmes ("Holmes") and James K. Dukes, Sr. ("Dukes") were representing Linda Bolton in her 10-count federal indictment related to tax evasion, and the two have been named as possible witnesses by the government in the tax evasion case.

Charles and Linda Bolton were indicted in March 2016 on a 10-count federal indictment for charges linked to tax evasion and filing false tax returns.

"Now into court comes the United States of America, appearing herin through the undersigned Assistant United States Attorney's who move this Honorable Court to disqualify Paul H. Holmes ("Holmes") and James K. Dukes, Sr. ("Dukes) as counsel of record for defendant Linda Bolton."

On Thursday in federal court, District Judge Keith Starrett ruled on a pair of motions. One was to unseal documents in the case, and the other was to disqualify legal counsel.

The motion to unseal documents in the case was denied by Starrett.

"Certainly the documents will not be sealed at the trial," Starrett said.

Starrett said he would rather tread with caution in this matter rather than unseal the documents.

The motion to disqualify Holmes and Dukes was granted.

"This presents the court of an actual conflict," Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Fred Harper said. "This conflict has already shown its head…we plan to introduce this at the trial. The Boltons disguised business income as loans to avoid taxes and tax liability. The credibility of the lawyers is placed at issue before the jury."

"The government's investigation revealed that Holmes and Dukes wrote checks as payments for goods and services obtained from the Bolton's business. They were not loans, as the Boltons have claimed."

Harper addressed the court regarding the government's position to remove the two attorneys and Linda Bolton's position in the case.

"It will contradict the information that Linda gave to the CPA office regarding the checks," Harper said. "Stuff that she submits to the CPA doesn't match the numbers she gave the CPA."

Harper expanded on the evidence that the government has is not just one check, it is a large amount of checks including multiple individuals.

"My focus was on a bulk of checks written by an individual, now…it has gone way past that," Harper said.

Starrett said, "If the government offers the checks from Holmes and Dukes, they would be witnesses. There is no way this is not a conflict, this is a clear conflict."

Linda was told by the court to have new legal representation within 10 days, and the trial date is still set for Aug. 22.