HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - 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.
"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.