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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Middle District of Florida

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Former U.S. Army Corps Of Engineers Employee Pleads Guilty To Lying To Investigators About Placing A Confederate Flag On African-American Co-worker's Desk

Jacksonville, Florida – United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III announces that Susan R. Thompson (58, Jacksonville) yesterday pleaded guilty to making false statements to a federal officer. She faces a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison. No sentencing date has been set.

According to the plea agreement, on June 24, 2015, Thompson used her home computer to print an image of the Confederate battle flag. The next morning, she brought the flag to a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers facility in Jacksonville, Florida, where she worked as a civilian employee. Thompson surreptitiously placed the image of the flag on the desk of an African-American woman, with whom Thompson had a contentious working relationship and a history of loud workplace confrontations.    

These events occurred one week after nine people were shot and killed at a historically black church in Charleston, South Carolina.

After Thompson’s co-worker found the image of the flag on her desk, inspectors from the Federal Protective Service were notified and opened an investigation to determine if there had been a breach of security at the facility, whether the image was intended as a threat of violence, and whether any federal crimes had been committed.  During that investigation, Thompson agreed to be interviewed and lied to the inspectors on two separate occasions, denying that she had placed the image of the flag on her co-worker’s desk. Thompson eventually admitted that she had been angry with her co-worker and that she had placed the image of the Confederate flag on the desk, but denied that her actions were racially-motivated. Following an internal investigation by the Army Corps of Engineers, Thompson was permitted to resign from federal employment in lieu of termination.

This case was investigated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Federal Protective Service. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Michael J. Coolican.

Updated December 22, 2015