HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Former Forrest County Sheriff's Department Chief Deputy Charles Bolton and his wife Linda have been denied a combined six motions requesting a new trial in connection to their federal convictions.
Charles and Linda were convicted September 15, 2016 by a jury of their peers after a two-day trial in Hattiesburg.
Charles was convicted of nine charges related to federal tax evasion and filing false tax returns, Linda was convicted on five charges of filing false tax returns. Charles was sentenced to a total of 45 months, and Linda was sentenced to 30 months in the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
On Monday, July 3, 2017, U.S. District Judge Keith Starrett issued a 41-page ruling regarding a series of motions filed on behalf of the Boltons.
Charles's first motion for a new trial:
"Charles's first motion for a new trial raises only two issues; Owen's (Joe Sam Owen, Bolton's former attorney) alleged conflict and Owen's deficiency as counsel for a failure to call certain witnesses to the stand. This motion will be denied," said U.S. District Court Judge Keith Starrett in his court filing.
Charles's second motion for a new trial:
"Most of Charles's arguments stem from what he contends is a conflict of interest his attorney Owen had in his representation of Charles. Charles contends that this conflict arose because Owen's attorney fees were paid by John Lee, who he calls a 'key Government witness.'"
Starrett clarified in his ruling that Lee was not a key government witness, and no subpoena to testify was every enforced against him, and parties were aware that he would only invoke the Fifth Amendment if called to the witness stand.
Owen's representation of Charles began in August 2014 according to court records, when he was contacted by Charles's brother, Terrell Bolton.
"Owen met with Charles at his law office on Sept. 3, 2014, to discuss Owen representing Charles, who was under investigation at the time for the theft of food from the Forrest County Sheriff's Office and the Adult and Youth Detention Center.
On October 19, 2014, a plea offer was sent to Owen, which was communicated to Charles and ultimately turned down according to court records.
"Owen transmitted Charles's denial of the plea offer on Jan. 9, 2015. To the court's knowledge, no further activity has occurred in the food theft case and no indictment was ever filed against Charles or Linda," according to Starrett in his ruling.
Owen was given first notice of the federal tax indictment on March 23, 2016, the day after it was filed. Neither Charles or Linda knew about the tax investigation or indictment, and it was unrelated to the potential charges in the food theft case.
Since the September 2016 conviction, Owen, on Charles's behalf, has three times argued that the John Lee checks were not proven to be income to the defendants at trial… the court has re three times rejected this argument, finding that the government had presented sufficient evidence that these checks were income to defendants, and has twice ruled that even if defendants had completely succeeded in showing that the John Lee checks were not income, there was still sufficient evidence of unreported income to support their convictions.
"Since the beginning of this case, Owen had been empathetic in his position that only four people had specific knowledge of these events and only four people could provide the jury with the guidance the jury would need."
"Charles Bolton, Linda Bolton, John Lee and Nicholson & Company. John Lee invoked the Fifth Amendment, and Owen believed that testimony from Nicholson would be damaging to Charles's case. The only remaining witnesses would have been Charles and Linda themselves, who both opted not to testify over Owen's advice, as was their right under the Fifth Amendment."
Charles's third motion for a new trial:
"Charles's Third Motion for New Trial  is word-for-word identical to his Second Motion for New Trial , with only some minor formatting changes. It will, of course, be denied for the same reasons. Attorney Sharon Denotra Henderson, the attorney who filed this motion on Charles's behalf, is warned that the Court is considering sanctions against her for such a frivolous filing of a 73-page document."
Charles's fourth motion for a new trial:
"Charles argues that the Court "erroneously" terminated his previous motions for new trial after he filed his Notice of Appeal.
In fact, it was Charles who was in error here, as his Notice of Appeal divested the Court of jurisdiction to hear his motions," said Starrett in his ruling.
Charles also argued points regarding his motion to stay was denial of bond, the recusal of U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi, prosecutions failure to follow internal Department of Justice Regulations, all of which were denied in separate parts in the filing.
Linda's first and second motions for a new trial:
The court adopted the same reasoning for denying Charles's motion in the first and fourth court filings.
Judge Starrett issued the conclusion of the filings and denied all six requests.
Charles has a potential release date of August 7th, 2020, and is currently being housed in Edgefield Federal Correctional Institution in South Carolina.
Linda has a potential release date of July 4th, 2019 and is currently being housed in Aliceville Federal Correctional Institution in Alabama.