Nashville General Sessions Judge Charged With Attempting To Obstruct Justice Through Bribery And Witness Tampering
Overt Acts Include Delivering $6,100 Ccash To Intermediary For Payment To Witness
Cason “Casey” Moreland, 59, of Nashville, Tenn., was charged today in a federal criminal complaint with attempting to obstruct justice through bribery and witness tampering, announced Jack Smith, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee; Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; and Michael Gavin, Special Agent in Charge of the Memphis Division of the FBI. Moreland is a General Sessions Court Judge in Davidson County, Tennessee.
Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the FBI, Matthew Espenshade, joined acting U.S. Attorney Smith in announcing the charges at a Noon news conference.
“The allegations set forth in the indictment set forth egregious abuses of power by a judge sitting here in Nashville,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Smith. “Such an abuse of power undermines the credibility of and destroys the public’s trust in the court system and strikes at the very essence of our judicial branch of government. Public corruption remains one of the highest priorities of the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI and officials who engage in such behavior will always be thoroughly investigated and vigorously prosecuted.”
According to the complaint, on January 25, 2017, the FBI opened a criminal investigation into whether Moreland and others violated federal anti-corruption statutes, by soliciting, accepting and extorting things of value, including sexual favors and other things, from persons with whom he had close personal relationships, in return for performing official acts that benefitted those persons and their associates
The criminal complaint alleges that Moreland in fact became aware of the FBI’s investigation on February 1, 2017, when agents attempted to interview him. By that time, local media outlets had reported alleged misconduct by Moreland, including having sexual relationships with individuals, in exchange for judicial favors. These reports continued to appear in the news on a regular basis, with new allegations reported in several subsequent news reports that outlined Moreland’s relationship with Person 1. The complaint alleges that Moreland knew that Person 1 was a material witness in this investigation and that Person 1 had made statements implicating Moreland’s criminal conduct.
The complaint further alleges that beginning on or about March 1, 2017, Moreland took steps to obstruct and interfere with the federal investigation by attempting to pay Person 1 to sign an affidavit recanting prior statements about Moreland. Specifically, the complaint alleges that Moreland met with a person identified as CS-1 and devised a scheme to pay several thousand dollars to Person 1 in exchange for changing her statements about Moreland. Moreland also told CS-1 of his desire to have drugs planted on Person 1 and then orchestrate a traffic stop where the drugs would be found and Person 1 would be arrested and her credibility destroyed. Moreland later provided CS-1 with a partial tag number for Person 1’s vehicle to further the scheme.
This scheme to obstruct the investigation continued and the complaint outlines actions Moreland took to conceal his involvement, including having CS-1 purchase a burner phone in a fictitious name, to be used by Moreland when contacting CS-1. The complaint also alleges that Moreland instructed CS-1 to use another person as an intermediary when dealing with Person 1.
The complaint also alleges that on March 11, 2017, Moreland gave CS-1 an affidavit, written as though Person 1 authored it. Moreland provided CS-1 with $5100 cash and took steps to insure that his fingerprints would not be on the affidavit. Moreland also told CS-1 to get Person 1 “liquored up real good” before mentioning the affidavit. During subsequent conversations with Moreland later in the evening, CS-1 told Moreland that he had met with Person 1 and that she had flagged various portions of the affidavit that were inaccurate, but that she would agree to sign it “as-is” for an additional $1,000. Moreland agreed, and provided CS-1 with an extra $1,000 in cash later that evening.
Finally, the complaint alleges subsequent meetings and conversations between Moreland and CS-1, where further discussion of the affidavit and planning of the scheme to plant drugs on Person 1 occurred.
“The court and criminal justice system function justly only if the public has confidence in their independence and impartiality. Abuses of power like the one charged in this case erode that confidence,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Blanco. “Our prosecutors and law enforcement partners work diligently every day to root out corruption like that charged and to ensure the public can trust our public institutions.”
“Public corruption of this nature threatens the public's confidence in our judicial system and the administration of justice,” said Matthew Espenshade, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Nashville.” This is why public corruption is the FBI's top criminal investigative priority. The FBI and our partner law enforcement agencies will not allow these behaviors to shake the foundations of our society.”
Moreland was arrested this morning by FBI agents and is currently in custody. He is expected to make an initial appearance before a U.S. Magistrate later this afternoon.
If convicted, Moreland faces up to 20 years’ in prison.
This case was investigated by the FBI and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Cecil VanDevender and Trial Attorney Lauren Bell, of the Public Integrity Section of the Department of Justice.
A criminal complaint is merely an accusation. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.