Two lawsuits filed by Charles and Linda Bolton against the head of FBI’s Mississippi Field Office and the former head of the IRS Criminal Investigative Division for Mississippi have been dismissed by federal judge.
Charles Bolton, former Forrest County chief deputy, and his wife were indicted in March 2016 and convicted in September 2016 of federal tax-related charges. They were sentenced in March 2017.
They alleged in their lawsuits filed separately against FBI Special Agent in Charge Christopher Freeze and former IRS Special Agent in Charge Jerome McDuffie that in April 2017 the men made slanderous statements about the Bolton’s while appearing on a WDAM-TV news program. The Hattiesburg American reported.
According to the Boltons, the officials misrepresented as fact that the couple had stolen food from the Forrest County Jail and diverted it into their personal business.
In response, the U.S. attorney’s office asked the court to substitute the United States for the individual defendants and dismiss the actions for lack of jurisdiction.
Federal judge Keith Starrett agreed and dismissed both lawsuits.
The federal judge found the alleged slanderous statements attributed to Freeze and McDuffie were made while they were acting within the course and scope of their employment as federal law enforcement officials.
In addition, he said because the Boltons did not present their claims to either the FBI or the IRS before filing the lawsuits, as required by the Federal Tort Claims Act, the court lacked jurisdiction over the claims.
While considering the couple’s sentences, Starrett looked at relevant conduct of the Boltons, which included evidence they had stolen food from Forrest County Jail, used it in their catering and restaurant business and failed to pay taxes on the value of the stolen food.
“The court specifically noted the testimony of plaintiffs’ co-conspirators in the food theft scheme, who had been previously charged,” Starrett wrote in his decision. “The court also noted the interviews with other persons at the jail, whether inmates or employees, which also implicated plaintiffs.
“The court found that ‘there was a culture of corruption in the Forrest County Jail and that plaintiffs participated in it for 10 years.”
The Boltons initially filed the lawsuits in Forrest County Circuit Court, where they also have civil suits pending against former friend and attorney John Lee and former accounting firm Topp McWhorter Harvey, previously Carl Nicholson and Co.
The Lee and Nicholson cases will be heard in circuit court by special judge Barry Ford.
Charles Bolton, guilty of four counts tax evasion and five counts of filing a false tax return, was ordered to serve 45 months at a medium-security federal corrections institution at Edgefield, South Carolina.
Linda Bolton, guilty of five counts of filing a false tax return, was ordered to serve 30 months in prison at a low-security corrections institution in Aliceville, Alabama.
The couple also was ordered to pay special assessments of $500 each and make restitution to the Internal Revenue Service in the amount of $145,849.78. Linda Bolton also was fined $6,000; Charles Bolton was fined $10,000.
The Bolton’s are in the process of appealing their convictions through the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.