Hattiesburg Couples’ Civil Lawsuit Against FBI and IRS Chiefs Dismissed
Hattiesburg, Miss. – Two lawsuits filed by former Forest County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Charles Bolton and his wife, Linda Bolton, against the head of FBI’s Mississippi Field Office and the former head of the IRS’s Criminal Investigative Division for Mississippi have been dismissed by United States District Judge Keith Starrett.
The Boltons, both convicted of federal tax-related charges in 2016, alleged in their lawsuits that in April 2017, FBI Special Agent in Charge Christopher Freeze and former IRS Special Agent in Charge Jerome McDuffie made slanderous statements about them while appearing on a WDAM televised news program. According to the Boltons, both officials misrepresented as fact that the Boltons had stolen food from the Forrest County Jail and diverted it into their personal business. The United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Mississippi asked the Court to substitute the United States for the individual defendants and to then dismiss the actions for lack of jurisdiction.
In granting the United States’ requests, Judge Starrett noted that, in September 2016, the Boltons were convicted in his court of federal tax-related crimes and that in March 2017, they were sentenced to prison and ordered to pay fines and restitution. Judge Starrett also noted that as part of the sentencing he considered other relevant conduct of the Boltons, which included evidence that they had stolen food from the Forrest County Jail, used it in their catering and restaurant business, and failed to pay taxes on the value of the stolen food. Judge Starrett found that the alleged slanderous statements attributed to SAC Freeze and former SAC McDuffie were made while they were acting within the course and scope of their employment as federal law enforcement officials and, consequently, the Boltons’ exclusive remedy was an action against the United States under the Federal Tort Claims Act. He also found that, because the Boltons had not presented their slander claims to either the FBI or the IRS prior to filing suit as required by the Federal Tort Claims Act, the Court lacked jurisdiction over those claims.
U.S. Attorney Hurst commended Assistant United States Attorney Stephen R. Graben who represented SAC Freeze and former SAC McDuffie.