After more than five hours of deliberation, a jury returned more than a dozen guilty verdicts on Forrest County Chief Deputy Charles Bolton and his wife, Linda, all related to federal tax crimes.More >>
After more than five hours of deliberation, a jury returned more than a dozen guilty verdicts on Forrest County Chief Deputy Charles Bolton and his wife, Linda, all related to federal tax crimes.More >>
After more than five hours of deliberation, a jury returned more than a dozen guilty verdicts on Forrest County Chief Deputy Charles Bolton and his wife, Linda, all related to federal tax crimes.
Here is a timeline of the events leading to their guilty verdicts:
Forrest County Chief Deputy Charles Bolton and his wife Linda Bolton were indicted in federal court for felony tax evasion.
According to the multi-count indictment filed, Charles and Linda,
“...did willfully attempt to evade and defeat a large part of the income tax due and owning by defendants to the United States of America by, among other things, preparing and causing to be prepared, and by signing and causing to be signed, a false and fraudulent joint U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, Form 1040, on behalf of defendants, which was filed with the IRS.”
The indictment went on to say that they both attempted to evade the assessment of their income tax by cashing tens of thousands of dollars in checks issued in payment for liquor, wine and catering services to prevent those payments from being recorded on their business bank statements.
The couple also provided deceptive records to their tax return preparer and made false statement to their tax returns preparer for goods and services were loans, according to the indictment.
They filed joint U.S. Individual Income Tax Returns with the Internal Revenue Service for tax years 2009-2013, which are the ones listed in the indictment.
Questions surrounded what would happen to Charles Bolton after being indicted, since he held several leadership position in the community.
Forrest County Chief Deputy Charles Bolton sits on Forrest General Hospital’s Board of Trustees and acts as the Chief Administrative Officer at the Forrest County Jail.
At the time, the FGH board had not made a decision on whether or not they would take action regarding his seat, and Forrest County Sheriff Billy McGee would not return Seven on Your Side's calls.
Forrest County Chief Deputy Charles Bolton and his wife Linda pleaded not guilty to 10 federal indictment charges for tax evasion in court.
Both Boltons were given an unsecured $25,000 bond, and were able to leave under conditions the court set to not be violated.
Forrest County Board of Supervisors went into executive session Monday to discuss three topics, including Forrest County Chief Deputy Charles Bolton.
According to board attorney, David Miller, they discussed personnel issues and promotions from the multipurpose center, the road department and Forrest County Sheriff’s Department Chief Charles Bolton.
“Issues regarding Chief Bolton and the Forrest General Hospital Board of Trustees were discussed, but no action was taken,” Miller said.
Miller said Bolton’s term would expire on June 6.
During a Monday morning meeting, the Forrest Co. Board of Supervisors unanimously appointed Kate Aseme to Chief Deputy Charles Bolton’s position on the Forrest General Hospital Board of Trustees.
His term was set to expire the following Monday.
The couple was due in court July 18 but was then pushed back to Aug. 22.
A pair of local attorneys in the Hub City were named as possible witnesses in Charles Bolton and his wife Linda Bolton's trial. Federal prosecutors argued that those attorneys needed to be removed as counsel.
Attorneys Paul H. Holmes (“Holmes”) and James K. Dukes, Sr. (“Dukes”) were representing Linda Bolton from her 10-count federal indictment related to tax evasion.
An examination of Linda Bolton’s notes, which she provided the Boltons’ tax preparer on a monthly basis along with the bank records of both businesses, revealed the Boltons claimed that various amounts, including the amounts on the checks written by Holmes and Dukes, were recorded as loans rather than income to the business.
The government argued that the payments as “loans” were unsupported, as there are no loan documents or agreements in the government’s evidence, nor did either defendant provide reciprocal discovery suggesting these payments from Dukes and Holmes were in fact loans.
Additionally, there is not a single check or receipt indicating a repayment on any loan, at any time, to any part.
Holmes and Dukes disagreed and declined to voluntarily withdraw as legal counsel in the case.
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.
Linda was told by the court to have new legal representation within 10 days, and the trial date is still set for Aug. 22.
The motion, a “memorandum in support of United States’ motion to admit summary witness testimony and summary exhibits.”
That motion, related to more than 100 checks to Sports 22 Restaurant & Bar and Hall Avenue Package Store, the two businesses owned by the Bolton’s.
Court filings show requests to call Internal Revenue Service Special Agent Bradley Luker as an expert witness to help summarize the “voluminous documentary evidence” in the case.
According to the motion, the government is arguing that it needs the IRS special agent to assist the jury in understanding these transactions.
The expert would summarize who endorsed the checks, how many were deposited in the business accounts and how many were cashed.
“As a part of Agent Luker’s testimony, the government anticipates introducing summary charts that show the financial transactions,” according to Kenneth Allen Polite, Jr., U.S. Attorney.
On Monday, three other motions were filed in the case.
Motion 1: To exclude defense arguments about John W. Lee’s unavailability to testify.
“The United States intends to introduce business records, checks, check registers, and tax returns of John W. Lee, an attorney and friend of the Boltons,” according to Kenneth Allen Polite, Jr., U.S. Attorney.
According to the motion, Lee’s attorney has informed the government that Lee will invoke his Fifth Amendment right against testifying in the trial and will be unavailable to testify.
The government states that in lieu of Lee’s testimony, they intend to admit the records as business records through stipulation and, possibly, through other witnesses with personal knowledge of the records.
The motion details the relevancy of the records in the case.
“The Lee records will establish that many of the checks that Lee wrote to the Sports 22 Restaurant were designated in his business records as for “supplies” or other goods and services,” according to Kenneth Allen Polite, Jr., U.S. Attorney.
Many of those checks from Lee to Sports 22 record the checks as being for “goods and services."
“The government will also seek to admit Lee’s tax returns for the 2009-2013 to show that Lee also claimed deductions for the checks he wrote to Sports 22 and Hall Avenue Package Store because the checks were for supplies or goods and services,” according to Kenneth Allen Polite, Jr., U.S. Attorney. “The checks, check registers, and tax returns are relevant because they tend to establish that the Lee checks were for goods and services (income to Sports 22 or Hall Avenue Package Store), and not loans or income to Lee.”
The motion goes on to detail that the defendants should be precluded from arguing that Lee must testify so that the Boltons can have an opportunity to cross-examine Lee, that they are prejudiced by the government’s failure to call him or that the government is hiding something or has a weak case because Lee is unavailable.
Motion 2: To exclude evidence of specific instances of defendants’ law abidingness or alleged “good deeds” and any reference to potential sentences.
According to the motion, Charles Bolton’s position as chief deputy sheriff of Forrest County and Linda Bolton’s status as his wife, they have interacted with the citizens in the Hattiesburg area on civic projects and in various other contexts.
“The U.S. believes the defendants may seek to use specific instances where Charles Bolton was helpful in his official role, or where his wife may have assisted him at charitable events of civic activities in her personal capacity, in an attempt to persuade the jury that the defendants are 'do gooders,' law abiding citizens, and/or honest public servants who would not commit the acts charged in the indictment,” according to Kenneth Allen Polite, Jr., U.S. Attorney.
Motion 3: Another motion filed on Monday was by Charles Bolton, to exclude evidence and/or comments by the U.S. relating to the Rhonda Lott v. Forrest County civil trial.
That case, which was settled in March for $300,000 alleged that Lott was fired as a result of her testimony in the 2013 Ware vs. DuPree mayoral election trial.
“The accused, Charles Bolton moves the court to exclude any evidence, or any comments by counsel or any attempted testimonial evidence relating to or touching upon the fact that James K. (Jim) Dukes and Paul “Bud” Holmes previously represented Linda Bolton and were disqualified,” according to Bolton’s motion.
According to responses by U.S. District Judge Keith Starrett filed Monday, responses to the motions should be filed on or before Sept. 1, 2016.
U.S. Congressman Bennie Thompson asked the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate recent Hattiesburg federal investigation he alleged were racially and politically motivated.
In his letter, Rep. Thompson asks U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch to "directly investigate organized targeting of the African-American community in the form of prosecutions and other intimidation methods in furtherance of a local political agenda."
Thompson lists several instances of alleged targeting, including federal indictments issued against Kenneth Fairley and Forrest County Sheriff's Department Chief Deputy Charles Bolton.
Linda's council asked for a continuance in her case until the U.S. Attorney General addressed Rep. Thompson's letter.
They also asked if the court denies their continuance regarding the letter, then to consider a shorter continuance to give them more time to prepare for trial.
The Government Response:
Late Friday afternoon the Assistant United States Attorneys filed an opposition to the Bolton's motion stating that there is no active inquiry or investigation into Congressman Thompson's claims.
The government says they reached out to Congressman Thompson's office for exculpatory evidence backing his claims, but Thompson's office responded that they did not possess or have personal knowledge of any exculpatory evidence regarding Chief Deputy Bolton or his wife.
The government went on to point out that all decisions related to and surrounding the presentation of the indictments against the Boltons were under the exclusive control of the United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Louisiana which has had no relationship with anything connected to Charles and Linda Bolton prior to September 29, 2015. This is significant because the claims attached to the Thompson letter were dated prior to that date.
According to the motion, the United States submitted its reply to respond to Charles Bolton’s arguments that admission of John Lee’s business records violate the confrontation clause and that it must detail John Lee’s Fifth Amendment claim of privilege.
“The government has spoken with defense counsel for John Lee and has been informed that Mr. Lee is extremely ill, as a result he probably cannot appear, and in any event would assert his Fifth Amendment privilege not to testify if he did appear,” said Kenneth Allen Polite, Jr. in the motion.
The government claims the files are business records and are exempt from the Confrontation Clause.
The “Confrontation Clause” is listed as: The Confrontation evidence of the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides that "in all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right…to be confronted with the witnesses against him."
“The Lee, P.A. records at issue do not violate the confrontation clause, should be admitted after the government establishes a foundation that they are business records under the hearsay exception under the Federal Rules of Evidence,” said Polite in the motion. “Further, the government is unaware of any authority compelling the government to explain the details of Lee’s claim of privilege.”
“The cases Charles Bolton cites do not change this rule as they deal with documents that are testimonial in nature, distinguishable from the financial records that Lee, P.A. kept in the ordinary course of business,” according to Polite in the motion.
Multiple cases cited through the court filing are all distinguishable from the facts presents in the current case according to federal prosecutors.
“In those cases, the government either failed to lay a proper foundation for the records, or the records were testimonial because they were prepared for the purpose of proving a fact at trial,” Polite said.
The motion details the difference from those in question to the financial records involved in the current case.
“The Lee, P.A. financial journals and the check ledgers, as well as the Lee, P.A. checks were created to maintain the financial and administrative order of the Lee, P.A. business,” Polite said. “The government will lay a foundation that the Lee, P.A. records are records kept within the course of regularly conducted business activity of the Lee firm.”
The government detailed that the business records will be presented through a witness who has personal knowledge of the records and that they are kept in order to maintain accurate financial records for the firm.
“The testimony will establish that the records were not prepared in anticipation of trial, but to administer the law firm’s business affairs,” said Polite in the motion. “This purpose keeps the Lee, P.A. records from violating the confrontation clause, because—having been created for the administration of an entity’s affairs and not for the purpose of establishing or proving some fact at trial—they are not testimonial.”
According to the filing, “Charles and Linda cite no authorities justifying their request that the government explain the exact charges that John Lee may face which would result in his ability to claim a valid privilege.”
Lee has been served a trial subpoena, and his attorney has said he will invoke his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination to prevent himself from testifying at the Boltons’ trial.
“The government has no objection to having Lee testify – in camera and outside the presence of the jury—to formally claim this privilege,” according to Polite. “However, it has found no authority, and the defendants cite to none, which would require Lee or the government to explain in detail how his testimony would incriminate him.”
The filing details Lee’s duties in the trial if he were to testify:
“The witness need only “describe in general terms the basis of the liability actually feared. He must give a description that is at least adequate to allow the trial judge to determine whether the fear of incrimination is reasonable and, if reasonable, how far the valid privilege extends.” A record can be made that is separate from the record kept of the proceedings in the courtroom, and “the record could be sealed and opened only for appellate review, if necessary.”
Legal counsel representing Forrest County Chief Deputy Charles Bolton and his wife, Linda, has subpoenaed the Beau Rivage Resort and Casino to produce gambling activity of Hub City attorney John Lee.
Lee is a Hattiesburg attorney that has conducted business with the Boltons in the past.
The subpoena was filed in Federal court Wednesday afternoon and requested that the Beau Rivage produce Lee's gambling losses, gambling winnings and gambling ratings between 2009 and 2013.
Legal counsel has also subpoenaed gambling related tax forms from the same time period.
Attorney Lisa Ross filed a motion Friday asking to be removed as counsel. Ross said she has not received adequate time to prepare for the Sept. 12 trial.
Ross was hired by Linda Bolton in early August after Bolton's previous attorneys, Jim Dukes and Bud Holmes were disqualified.
Federal Judge Keith Starrett denied Ross's motion.
The Bolton’s trial was scheduled to start Monday, Sept. 12, with jury selection.
It was rescheduled to Tuesday, Sept. 13, because of Fairley’s federal trial extending beyond the three to four days attorneys originally anticipated.
Jury was selected at 12:18 p.m. and were seated in the jury box.
The jury is made up of eight men and six women. Ten of the jury members are white, and four are black, two of which are alternates.
The federal trial for Forrest County Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy and his wife, Linda Bolton, started Tuesday with jury selection and then proceeded to hear testimony from five witnesses.
Charles and Linda Bolton were indicted in March for 10 counts of tax evasion (5) and filing false tax returns (5) between 2009 and 2013.
At 12:18 p.m., a jury pool of 53 was narrowed to 14, with two of those being alternates. The jury is made up of eight men and six women, 10 are white and four are black.
The jury is made up of jurors from all across the southern district, as ordered by District Judge Keith Starrett. Only one jury member is from Forrest County, however made it through the Voir Dire process and was selected.
Starrett informed the jury that the two defendants, Charles and Linda were indicted for 10 violations of income tax codes and not paying taxes on income earned.
Assistant United States Attorney Fred Harper started things off for the government with his opening statements.
“It involves a state of conduct that covers five years,” Harper said. “Intent is inferred from surrounding circumstances.”
Harper detailed that the Boltons own a pair of “Schedule C businesses, which is Sports 22 and Hall Avenue Package Store.”
The Boltons file joint tax returns every year, according to Harper.
“In addition to his paycheck, the Chief Deputy at the Forrest County Sheriff’s Department, they had to report that and other income,” Harper said. “In 2009, evidence shows they receive checks for liquor from one person, John Lee.”
John Lee is a prominent attorney and long time friend of the Boltons according to court testimony.
Harper detailed money that was written in checks, allegedly for liquor, by Lee.
“Those checks totaled $52,870.18, and those were not deposited in the liquor store account, they were cashed,” Harper said.
Other checks were detailed by Harper, all from John Lee to Sports 22.
“That is over $273,000 in cash, all to Sports 22, not to Charles or Linda, not one deposited into their business accounts,” Harper said. “Not one penny was reported to their Certified Public Accountant firm.”
Harper continued to address the jury, telling them that loans cannot be taxed and further detailed money issues.
-2009: $16,604.21 – attempted to deduct, but paid no taxes
-2010: $29,967.77 – marked as a loan, paid no taxes
-2011: $59,105.29 – marked as a loan, paid no taxes
-2012: $16,800.00 – marked as a loan, paid no taxes
-2013: $24,900.00 - marked as a loan, paid no taxes
“All these were not reported as income, but being deducted as loans,” Harper said.
He added that these checks that are mentioned are for "goods & services" that were marked as loans on records in evidence.
Harper also mentioned where jury members would see checks from, including:
James Dukes, Bud Holmes, Forrest General Hospital, Dorothy Harris, Manheim Mississippi (Auto Auction) and the Mississippi Air National Guard.
“Manheim had 44 checks, over $60,000 all were marked as loans,” Harper said. “Tax preparers prepare returns are based on the information received.”
With a brief pause, Harper looked to the jury and then looked to the Boltons.
“No other person is responsible for the Boltons sitting at that table over there but them,” Harper said. “The greed never stopped.”
Joe Sam Owen, representing Charles Bolton, was first up for the defense in opening statements.
“The first impression is, my gosh, these people are guilty,” Owen said. “That’s the way the government works.”
Owen detailed the fact that this case is not simple, and it involves a very close, more than 30-year friend of the Boltons, Mr. John Lee, and majority of this is just based off mistakes.
Owen informed the jury of Nicholson & Company, who was responsible for the tax returns, who Linda Bolton dealt with for more than 20 years.
“The proof…John Lee gifts about $11,000 a year to the Boltons,” Owen said.
“Charles says he was chasing checks for John Lee, and then he would give the money to Lee, often they would go gambling,” Owen said. “If John Lee didn’t gamble it, he kept it.”
Owen referenced that things were often written off by Lee as “office supplies," but stated to the jury, we will know really for what, later in the trial.
Robert McDuff, representing Linda Bolton, followed briefly, touching on the amount of money and that nothing was done but a few mistakes, which could have or should have been caught by the accounting agency.
After opening statements, the rule of sequestration was invoked and all potential witnesses in the courtroom had to leave.
The government’s first witness they called to the stand was Robert Bo Beason, the general manager of Manheim Mississippi-Auto Auctions (Manheim).
Beason testified that in 2009 to 2015, they sub-let out cooking to Sports 22 for auction nights at the 113 acre lot on Highway 49, which roughly 500 to 800 people, sometimes 1,000 would show up.
“They would come out weekly and provide food for our customers,” Beason said.
He said that anyone could come and purchase food, but that the more clients that spent more money, got more perks.
Beason was contacted by federal investigators on March 22, 2015 regarding the ongoing investigation.
Beason said that he was unable to find all the invoices that were requested in the case, because they are kept off sight in storage, but in 2012 the company went with an oracle based pay system.
He added that he never had a discussion of lending money to the Boltons, or any gifts or any loans.
On cross examination, he was asked if he was ever asked to alter or change any invoices, which he replied no.
On re-direct, he was questioned about an invoice for $2,320.58 that was to Sports 22. That check was paid, and on a hand written note, by Linda Bolton, it showed it was listed as a loan.
“I had no idea what was done with my check,” Beason said.
The second witness was Sr. Master Sgt. Kerry Walker, of the 172nd Airlift Wing out of Jackson, MS.
Walker, who works in the contracting office deals with purchasing supplies and things for Unit Training Assembly, which is when the National Guard meets once a month to train.
In 2013, Walker said they contacted the Small Business Bureau looking for a “disadvantaged business, or new or struggling” to do work.
Walker detailed eight weekends that they paid Sports 22 for, each check being $2,750.00.
One date specific, was Aug. 13, 2013, for $2,750.00. Prosecutors compared that check to other hand-written notes from Linda that had it marked under loans.
The third witness to testify was the president and CEO of Forrest General Hospital, Evan Dillard.
Dillard testified about Charles being on the board at the hospital and how members would meet once a month.
Dillard stated that one time, in September 2011 there was a meeting at Sports 22, where board members, Forrest County Supervisors, attorneys, staff and county employees attended.
He also testified that he and others had tried to locate invoices, but were unable to come up with them.
Harper questioned him about a check from Oct. 27, 2011, for $2,108.41 that was in reference to a meeting at Sports 22.
“Since then we felt it was more appropriate to have it somewhere else, or having someone else take care of it,” Dillard said.
On Oct. 28, 2011, it was deposited at BancorpSouth, under Linda’s notes, it was categorized as a loan.
Dillard was questioned about a manual check request form, and asked about the “explanation” blank.
The jury was shown the document that read: “Advertising”
“It appears to be a mistake,” Dillard said.
On cross examination, Dillard testified to the character of Charles Bolton and discussed his time on the board, which was not renewed in 2016.
The fourth witness was Hattiesburg resident, Dorothy Harris.
Harris testified that Aug. 5, 2011, she sent a check via a friend to get a fish plate from Sports 22.
That check was for $8.75, and the government again, showed that the exact amount was listed under a category of loans on hand-written notes by Linda.
The fifth witness to take the stand was Lisa Conn, who has known the Boltons for roughly 15 years.
She was questioned about a check for $1,000 from Feb. 27, 2013, which she said was for food for a birthday party that was held at Sports 22 for Charlie Sutherland.
“We had things like catfish, hushpuppies and coleslaw,” Conn said. “Charlie ate there before and really liked it, so we chose that location for the party.”
Conn said between 45 and 50 people attended the party.
The check-in question, was later deposited by Linda, and again, marked in the loan column of her hand-written notes.
Conn said she was informed of the amount to pay by Terry Martin.
That check showed up at BancorpSouth on March 1, 2013. Court documents show a hand written ledger, written by Linda, marked “Sports 22, March 13” and under the loan column, the amount matches with the bank records.
Sheriff Billy McGee, Jim Dukes Jr., John Chain, Frazier Bolton, Carl Nicholson, Deborah Delgado and John Colette, were in attendance throughout the day.
Hattiesburg City Council woman Deborah Delgado was asked why she was in attendance, going on the second week in federal court, she replied:
“These are my friends,” Delgado said.
Additional Court Matters:
Judge Starrett said he will rule on records requested by the defense in reference to John Lee and records from the Beau Rivage when they arrive in federal court Wednesday.
Both sides, defense and government agreed that the hand-written notes were in fact done by Linda Bolton.
Day two of the Charles and Linda Bolton federal tax trial involved two government witnesses on the stand throughout the day, and will likely be the last of the witnesses before the government rests.
Renee Moore, a certified public accountant for Topp McWhorter Harvey, PLLC, which was formerly Nicholson & Company was the government’s sixth witness.
Moore testified to her duties at the firm, and said that she started at Nicholson & Company in 2009.
She spoke about Sports 22 and Hall Avenue Package store, both that are Schedule C businesses owned by the Boltons.
“Schedule C is a sole proprietorship, it’s doing something to try to make money,” Moore said.
Moore also agreed that the Boltons file joint tax returns.
During testimony, the government showed that at one point, Hall Avenue was listed under Charles Bolton, and Sports 22 was listed under Linda Bolton.
“I would need receipts, deposits, things like that,” Moore said. “I would rely on things the client brings me.”
Moore was not the one that prepared the Bolton’s taxes; it was Lisa Mullis who also worked at Nicholson & Company.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Sharan Liberman showed Moore dozens of documents, including charts that the government made involving years 2009-2013 where money and checks are in question.
Multiple years show that the Boltons filed a loss on their tax returns for Sports 22 and Hall Avenue Package store, and most, got a refund.
“Under penalties of perjury, I declare that I have examined this return and accompanying schedules and statements, and to the best of my knowledge and belief, they are true, correct and complete. Declaration of preparer (other than taxpayer) is based on all information of which preparer has any knowledge,” is what Moore read from a tax form to the court.
Moore was questioned about the number of times where the Boltons marks “Loans” on checks that were given to their two businesses.
She said she was under the impression that things were “Capital Contributions," where the owner donates money to their own business. Which she claimed was “very ordinary."
She said through all the documents that were reviewed that the Boltons are the ones that provided all the written statements, 10-99 forms and all the documents.
She was asked about “loans or Capital Contributions” and if she questioned it, or would question it.
“No, because it was designated as loans,” Moore said. “The loans are in a sole proprietorship and that’s where they loan the business money.”
But Moore said she never looked at “source documents” because they do not have to.
She was questioned about checks from Manheim Mississippi that was sent to the Boltons at Sports 22.
“Loans being submitted aren’t recorded as revenue,” Moore said.
She stated that things that are not reported as income is classified as an “understatement of income.”
From 2009 – 2013, the Boltons made $384,019.44 from Manheim, all that went to Sports 22, broken down by years by these totals:
Court documents show that $76,607.54 of that was marked as loans, and never recorded as income.
“Of all that money, roughly $308,000 was reported as income,” said Joe Sam Owen, Charles Bolton's attorney.
In 2010, the Boltons claimed $5,840 as gambling winnings, which was reported to the government.
Moore was also asked if she thinks Linda is trustworthy, she said yes, but while answering she shook her head no. Moore was also asked about Charles, she said yes and nodded her head.
A Mississippi sales tax audit was also brought up during testimony, revealing that there was a previous issue with Sports 22 and Hall Avenue Package Store.
“All the amounts had been indicated as loans, they disallowed it, and said they had to be sales,” Moore said.
The government’s seventh and possibly final witness was Internal Revenue Service, Special Agent Bradley Luker.
Luker is an agent in the Criminal Investigations Division of the IRS, and started the investigation in March 2015 when he was contacted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation about questionable checks.
Luker testified about 48 checks that were written to Sports 22, and 18 that were written to Hall Avenue Package Store, from Hattiesburg attorney, and longtime Boltons friend, John Lee.
“There is an ongoing federal investigation into John Lee,” Luker said.
A breakdown of checks from John Lee show that seven were deposited into the Hall Avenue account, and the remaining 11 were cashed.
At Sports 22, 48 were written, five were “wholly” deposited, and the rest were cashed, with two being partially deposited, meaning some cash was taken out at the deposit.
“There is no evidence that would lead me to have an answer to what happened to the cash,” Luker said.
The checks were cashed by Charles and Linda Bolton, and the trail stops at the banks, according to Luker.
Luker testified about catering that the Boltons did through Sports 22 for the National Guard and Manheim, all with multiple checks that ended up being claimed as loans.
Checks from Bud Holmes and Jim Dukes were also brought into question, one for $2,250 and $1,000 both claimed as loans.
Luker testified during cross examination that thousands of dollars was spent by Lee for “food and liquor," because that’s how Lee listed it, and it was classified as “supplies."
Tax returns show that $273,520 just in cashed checks from John Lee by the Boltons was for “food and liquor” over the course of five years, 2009-2013.
Luker was able to show during his testimony, via multiple charts and tax records that the Boltons received money from Lee for multiple purchases.
District Judge Keith Starrett has still not issued a ruling on the matter involving quashing the records that were subpoenaed from the Beau Rivage regarding John Lee’s gambling records.
Forrest County Sheriff Billy McGee, Jim Dukes Jr., John Chain, Frazier Bolton, Carl Nicholson, Deborah Delgado, John Colette, Johneice DuPree, and Rod Woullard were in attendance throughout the day.
The third day of the federal trial for Charles and Linda Bolton began with the government resting their case after hours long testimony on Wednesday with their seventh witness.
The defense asked the judge to acquit both defendants, citing lack of evidence. Judge Keith Starrett denied the request and the defense called their first witness.
Helen Moreland, the secretary for John Lee, took the stand.
She was questioned about checks, accounts and statements regarding Lee and the Boltons.
The witness gave damaging testimony on cross examination by the government after she was asked if Lee ever wrote her checks for her to cash and return to him.
She said no, that he would write them to himself and get the money, and that he never asked anyone or another business to do it for him.
After a short testimony, she was dismissed as a witness and the defense rested their case.
The defense issued subpoenas for multiple other people to testify, but elected not to call them.
Both Charles and Linda elected not to testify.
The judge and attorneys met for jury instructions before closing arguments. The jury was handed the case around 2 p.m.
“We are happy that the jury saw the evidence and obviously deliberated carefully through that evidence and came to a verdict at least on 16 of the 20 counts,” Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Fred Harper said.
The jury was given the case at 2:10 p.m. and returned their verdicts at 7:43 p.m.
Charles was convicted on four counts of tax evasion, not guilty on one count of tax evasion and guilty on all five counts related to filing a false tax return.
Linda was convicted on five counts of filing a false tax return and not guilty on one count of tax evasion, with a “no verdict” being reached on the remaining four.
“The justice system is alive and it works, and you know when you have situation where people violate federal law, particularly tax laws or any other laws than it’s the obligation of the United States Department of justice to pursue those cases and prosecute them,” Harper said.
The two were remanded into the custody of the U.S. Marshals at the William M. Colmer Federal Courthouse and transported to the Stone County Jail to be booked.
After the verdicts were read, family members and friends of the Boltons lashed out in the courtroom, threatening an Internal Revenue Service Agent, yelling and pointing saying “I’ll get that a**.” More than six U.S. Marshals worked to remove family members from the courtroom and out of the hallways, all while they were yelling and screaming “damnation on this court.”
Their sentencing is set for 2:30 p.m. on Dec. 19, 2016.
Forrest County Supervisors had no comment as of Thursday night regarding the employment status of Charles Bolton.
Day 3 recap:
The government rested its case first thing Thursday morning, and the defense started their “Case in Chief” for Charles and Linda Bolton.
The defense called its first witness, Helen Moreland, the secretary for Hattiesburg attorney, and close friend of the Boltons, John Lee.
She testified that countless times that John Lee would write checks to himself and she would take them across the street from their office to BancorpSouth and cash them and give him the money.
This was a large part of the defense’s strategy, saying that Charles was given checks, payable to Sports 22 and Hall Avenue Package store and he would cash them for Lee.
Moreland said that was not the case; he wrote personal checks to himself, not the Boltons.
After that testimony, Charles and Linda Bolton decided not to testify, and the defense rested its case.
Joe Sam Owen, Charles Bolton’s attorney said, “there are certain reasons why he has chosen not to testify.”
Jury instructions were agreed on by both sides and then presented to the jury with closing arguments.
In closing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Sharon Lieberman said “they found out a simple way to reduce the amount they owe to the IRS.”
Lieberman spoke for roughly 24 minutes, in her closing.
“The defense will tell you this was a mistake, mistakes don’t happen 72 times in five years,” Lieberman said. “In this case, the buck stops with the Boltons.”
Joe Sam Owen took over for the defense, speaking for 20 minutes, with majority of the time harping on John Lee and tax records, saying that the basis of the government’s case was based on questionable tax documents and a few ledgers.
Robert McDuff, spoke for Linda Bolton, taking up 25 minutes of their time, presenting to the jury that people do make mistakes.
“This is a civil case, not a criminal case,” McDuff said. “There was no ill will or anything illegal done here, they were trying to pay the least amount of taxes possible.”
Harper took over for the government to close out the statements, speaking for roughly 19 minutes.
“I feel like I’m following Siegfried & Roy,” Harper said. “Everyone’s at fault but them, unbelievable.”
In reference to the John Lee ledgers that the defense continued to raise issues over, Harper said, “The John Lee ledgers, you can burn them.”
Harper detailed out their crimes, and the amount of money, with roughly “$273,000 in checks being cashed by the Boltons and no proof that it went anywhere but their pockets.”
“Moral of the story, liars figure, but the figures just don’t lie,” Harper said. “The greed never stopped.”
Harper told the jury that John Lee and those records were just a smoke-screen to distract them from the truth and the real issues.
“Stealing is stealing, lying is lying, loans are not sales,” Harper said.
The jury was given the case at 2:10 p.m. and the first note was sent to the court at 3:43 p.m.
The jury asked, “Can we get a clarification on willful and unwillful regarding to tax evasion?”
District Judge Keith Starrett replied back, for the jury to see sections 13, 14, and 15 of the jury instructions.
At 5:36 p.m. another note was sent, saying:
“We can’t come to a verdict, it’s not unanimous.”
Starrett brought them out and read them the modified Allen charge, encouraging them to reach a verdict.
At 7:36 p.m. the jury said: “We have a verdict on 16 counts but can’t come to a unanimous vote on four counts.”
They were brought out, told to write what they have reached.
At 7:43 p.m., they returned with their verdict.
The Boltons are facing up to two years a piece, per conviction. Charles with the possibility of 18 years, and Linda with the possibility of 10.
Forrest County Sheriff Billy McGee, Johniece DuPree, Frazier Bolton, Deborah Delgado, Jim Dukes, Jim Dukes Jr., John Chain, Carl Nicholson attorney John Colette, W.A. Payne and Lynn Cartlidge were all present at times throughout the proceedings Thursday.
Copyright WDAM 2017. All rights reserved.More >>
Copyright WDAM 2017. All rights reserved.More >>