12 jurors and two alternates will hear the case of Forrest County Chief Deputy Charles Bolton and his wife, Linda. Bolton was a key figure implicated in two cases of election fraud in 2013 and 2014.
Samuel Lindsay, who was an inmate in 2013 during the election for Mayor of Hattiesburg, testified during a trial over charges of invalid absentee ballots and election fraud in that race that Chief Deputy Bolton promised him early release from jail if he would vote for Mayor Johnny DuPree.
Bolton was also implicated in the illegal purchase of radio ads for Senator Thad Cochran in 2014 targeting the African American community with claims that if his opponent in the Republican primary, Sen. Chris McDaniel, were elected he would “keep blacks from voting.”
The pro-Cochran ads were paid for by ALS Enterprises, LLC. A company registered by Bolton and Hattiesburg Pastor Arthur Siggers. Siggers did the voice-over for the ad and a similar ad targeting black voters in Jackson. In addition to the questionable claims of the ad itself, ad that ran in Hattiesburg markets lacked the federally required disclaimers.
The Boltons are each charged with five counts each of filing false tax returns and tax evasion, stemming from tax returns they filed between 2010 and 2014, The Hattiesburg American reported.
The Boltons own two Hattiesburg businesses, Sports 22 Restaurant and Hall Avenue Package Store. They are accused of trying to hide income by “cashing tens of thousands of dollars in checks purportedly issued in payment for liquor, wine and catering services to prevent those payments from being recorded on the business bank statements,” according to an indictment.
The couple, according to the indictment, also allegedly provided deceptive records and made false statements, telling their tax preparer that some payments for goods were loans.
Their trial began a day after another federal jury in Hattiesburg convicted a politically connected pastor, the Rev. Kenneth Fairley, of conspiracy and theft in a case involving money skimmed from a federal housing program. U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael Parker decided Tuesday that Fairley will be out on an unsecured $25,000 bond until the Dec. 19 sentencing. That means Fairley will pay nothing unless he violates the terms of his release.
In another twist, U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson wrote to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch in April questioning the prosecutions of Fairley and Bolton.