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Ex-Nashville Judge Casey Moreland indicted on federal bribery, tampering charges

CLOSEEx-Nashville Judge Casey Moreland Indicted On Federal Bribery, Tampering Charges Ex-Nashville Judge Casey Moreland Indicted On Federal Bribery, Tampering Charges NASHVILLE JUDGE CASEY MORELANDCasey Moreland to continue earning pension | 0:32

Disgraced Nashville judge Casey Moreland, who is facing federal crimes, will continue to receive his taxpayer-funded pension. State and Metro Nashville law say upon conviction of a crime of malfeasance, he would give up retirement benefits. Stacey Barchenger/USA Today Network – Tennessee

CLOSEEx-Nashville Judge Casey Moreland Indicted On Federal Bribery, Tampering Charges Ex-Nashville Judge Casey Moreland Indicted On Federal Bribery, Tampering Charges NASHVILLE JUDGE CASEY MORELANDCasey Moreland released from jail | 1:27

Judge Casey Moreland’s attorney Peter Strianse is happy a federal judge has released Moreland from Jail. George Walker IV / The Tennessean

CLOSEEx-Nashville Judge Casey Moreland Indicted On Federal Bribery, Tampering Charges Ex-Nashville Judge Casey Moreland Indicted On Federal Bribery, Tampering Charges NASHVILLE JUDGE CASEY MORELANDJudge Casey Moreland charged, taken into custody | 7:55

Federal officials charged Judge Casey Moreland Monday, March 28, 2017 with attempting to obstruct justice and witness tampering. Adam Tamburin / USA Today Network – Tennessee

CLOSEEx-Nashville Judge Casey Moreland Indicted On Federal Bribery, Tampering Charges Ex-Nashville Judge Casey Moreland Indicted On Federal Bribery, Tampering Charges NASHVILLE JUDGE CASEY MORELANDJudge Moreland’s lawyer speaks after Moreland’s arrest | 2:52

The federal government filed criminal charges against Nashville General Sessions Judge Casey Moreland, alleging he tried to bribe a woman to recant her allegations against him. Shelley Mays/The Tennessean

CLOSEEx-Nashville Judge Casey Moreland Indicted On Federal Bribery, Tampering Charges Ex-Nashville Judge Casey Moreland Indicted On Federal Bribery, Tampering Charges NASHVILLE JUDGE CASEY MORELANDBio: Nashville Judge Casey Moreland | 0:59

A brief bio of Nashville General Sessions Judge Casey Moreland Stacey Barchenger / Tennessean

CLOSEEx-Nashville Judge Casey Moreland Indicted On Federal Bribery, Tampering Charges Ex-Nashville Judge Casey Moreland Indicted On Federal Bribery, Tampering Charges NASHVILLE JUDGE CASEY MORELANDPotential discipline for judges in Tennessee | 0:37

The Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct, a 12-member body, is charged with investigating and disciplining the state’s judges. If the board finds a judge committed misconduct, here’s what sanctions it can impose. Stacey Barchenger / The Tennessean Stacey Barchenger / The Tennessean

Story Highlights

  • The five counts in the indictment follow Moreland’s arrest in March. He plans to plead not guilty.
  • The counts are related to tampering, bribery and obstruction of justice. Moreland may still face more charges.
  • Federal investigators confirmed a Moreland friend and semi-pro wrestler worked with the FBI.
  • The wrestler, known as “The Beast,” pleaded guilty to one federal count.

Former Nashville Judge Casey Moreland faces five felony counts related to trying to bribe and frame a woman who says he offered her judicial favors in exchange for sex, according to a federal indictment levied Wednesday. The indictment follows Moreland’s arrest in late March on three federal charges[3] alleging obstruction of justice. If convicted on all five counts, Moreland could face a maximum of 80 years in prison and a fine of $1.25 million, according to the U.S. Attorney for Middle Tennessee. In response to the indictment, Moreland’s attorney Peter Strianse said the former judge plans to plead not guilty.

“The indictment returned today against Judge Moreland is simply an accusation and is not evidence of anything,” Strianse said.

“He will plead not guilty and, like all citizens, is presumed innocent.”

Months before the March arrest, media reports chronicled misconduct in the judge’s courtroom, including how Moreland, 59, intervened in a traffic stop on behalf of a woman who was purportedly a paramour and waived jail time[4] for his future son-in-law. But the charges revealed that Moreland may have tried to cover up allegations against him after the reporting began.

“Public corruption of this nature threatens the public’s confidence in our judicial system and the administration of justice,” Assistant Special Agent in Charge Matthew Espenshade of the FBI in Nashville said at the time of Moreland’s arrest. “This is why public corruption is the FBI’s top criminal investigative priority.”

Moreland was initially charged with offering a confidential source, who at the time was working for the FBI, more than $6,000 to make a former lover recant allegations she made against the judge.

This right here gets me out of trouble, Moreland said, according to the FBI documents. The indictment focuses only on the conduct included in the original criminal complaint. As noted in the indictment, the FBI originally started investigating Moreland in January to see whether he used his job as a judge to give favors to two women, Natalie Amos and Leigh Terry, with whom he purportedly had sexual relationships. The fact the indictment focuses only on alleged criminal conduct found after the start of the FBI investigation means more federal charges could be on the way.

The five counts included in the indictment are:

  1. Tampering with a witness by corrupt persuasion: This charge is related to Moreland’s alleged attempts to get Amos to recant her statements against him. Amos told WSMV-TV she had sex with Moreland, and he helped clear some of her legal fees and other problems.

  2. Obstruction of an official proceeding: Moreland is accused of trying to hamstring a federal grand jury by attempting to coax Amos into changing her story.

  3. Obstruction of a criminal investigation by bribery: Moreland is accused of offering to pay Amos $6,000 for her to sign an affidavit that said she had given false statements in media reports.

  4. Retaliation against a witness, victim, or informant: In addition to considering a bribe, Moreland is accused of discussing a plan to plant drugs in Amos’ car and having her pulled over by law enforcement.

  5. Destroying, altering or falsifying records or documents: Federal prosecutors argue Moreland’s attempt to get Amos to sign the affidavit amounts to him orchestrating the creation of a false document in the attempt to influence a federal investigation.

It was this last charge that particularly peeved Strianse, Moreland’s attorney.

“The speaking allegations contained in the indictment refer to an affidavit that was never used or made public,” Strianse said in the statement.

“Remarkably, at the preliminary hearing conducted last month in federal court, the FBI agent testified that the investigation revealed that the affidavit was to be leaked to the media, not used in connection with any official court proceeding. If that is the case, there is a significant issue as to whether such an affidavit could ever trigger a violation of federal law. A criminal charge is different than an indictment. Federal prosecutors can’t take a suspect to trial without an indictment, but they can seek a criminal charge and have that person arrested if they think the person is meddling with their investigation.

‘The Beast’ and Moreland

Moreland relied on the help of a man to try and bribe Amos and orchestrate her phony traffic stop. Until Wednesday, the identity of the man had yet to be confirmed by federal prosecutors, who used him as a confidential informant against Moreland. But they officially revealed the name of the security guard and part-time semi-pro wrestler who helped obtain evidence that could prove damning to the former judge.

At roughly 9:15 a.m. James Pedigo adorned in a black and white pinstripe suit entered a federal courtroom and pleaded guilty to one felony charge of conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding. The charging document says Pedigo worked with C.M. to attempt to corruptly obstruct, influence, and impede a federal grand jury. The indictment says Pedigo met Moreland more than 20 years ago and was a neighbor of Moreland’s sister, but Pedigo and Moreland reconnected recently when Pedigo wanted help getting a job as a security guard in General Sessions court. When he s not working security, Pedigo wrestles under the name The Beast, according to[5]YouTube videos[6]. In the original criminal complaint against Moreland, Pedigo is referred to as CS-1. He originally denied conspiring with Moreland when approached by the FBI, but eventually admitted his involvement in trying to get a former lover of Moreland s to recant her statement.

Pedigo worked with the FBI in the attempts to give Amos $6,000 to recant some of her damaging public statements made about Moreland. He also told Moreland a friend in law enforcement may be able to plant drugs in Amos car and orchestrate a traffic stop. Pedigo was released with conditions, a signal that he was given a deal on his own crime in exchange for his help in Moreland s case. The Moreland criminal complaint said Pedigo was cooperating in the hopes of receiving leniency.

More charges to come?

The FBI investigated whether Moreland “and others” violated federal anti-corruption laws, including honest services fraud and the Hobbs Act covering extortion under color of official right, according to the criminal complaint. In the context of a public official, honest services fraud typically refers to bribery or a kickback. The government can prove a Hobbs Act violation if it shows a public official received an inappropriate payment from a private person in exchange for an official act, or a quid pro quo relationship.

Moreland was released three days after his arrest to home confinement after tendering his resignation to Mayor Megan Barry[7]. The Nashville Democrat had served as a judge since 1998, winning re-election most recently in 2014. He was one of 11 General Sessions judges, who each earns $170,000. Moreland heard exclusively criminal cases, while other judges also hear civil lawsuits, too.

With Moreland’s resignation, he’s in line to earn a $4,500 monthly pension. But any conviction that’s related to official misconduct would nix future payments.

Read more:

Nashville judge Casey Moreland’s pension? $4,500 a month[8]

Timeline: Investigation of Judge Casey Moreland[9]

8 seek appointment to Moreland’s seat on bench[10]

Analysis: Will Moreland’s arrest impact his own rulings?[11]

Reach Stacey Barchenger at [email protected] or 615-726-8968 and on Twitter @sbarchenger[12]. Reach Dave Boucher at [email protected] or 615-259-8892 and on Twitter @Dave_Boucher1[13].

Read or Share this story: http://tnne.ws/2q7vLcX

References

  1. ^

Ex-Nashville Judge Casey Moreland indicted on federal bribery …

CLOSEEx-Nashville Judge Casey Moreland Indicted On Federal Bribery ... Ex-Nashville Judge Casey Moreland Indicted On Federal Bribery ... NASHVILLE JUDGE CASEY MORELANDCasey Moreland to continue earning pension | 0:32

Disgraced Nashville judge Casey Moreland, who is facing federal crimes, will continue to receive his taxpayer-funded pension. State and Metro Nashville law say upon conviction of a crime of malfeasance, he would give up retirement benefits. Stacey Barchenger/USA Today Network – Tennessee

CLOSEEx-Nashville Judge Casey Moreland Indicted On Federal Bribery ... Ex-Nashville Judge Casey Moreland Indicted On Federal Bribery ... NASHVILLE JUDGE CASEY MORELANDCasey Moreland released from jail | 1:27

Judge Casey Moreland’s attorney Peter Strianse is happy a federal judge has released Moreland from Jail. George Walker IV / The Tennessean

CLOSEEx-Nashville Judge Casey Moreland Indicted On Federal Bribery ... Ex-Nashville Judge Casey Moreland Indicted On Federal Bribery ... NASHVILLE JUDGE CASEY MORELANDJudge Casey Moreland charged, taken into custody | 7:55

Federal officials charged Judge Casey Moreland Monday, March 28, 2017 with attempting to obstruct justice and witness tampering. Adam Tamburin / USA Today Network – Tennessee

CLOSEEx-Nashville Judge Casey Moreland Indicted On Federal Bribery ... Ex-Nashville Judge Casey Moreland Indicted On Federal Bribery ... NASHVILLE JUDGE CASEY MORELANDJudge Moreland’s lawyer speaks after Moreland’s arrest | 2:52

The federal government filed criminal charges against Nashville General Sessions Judge Casey Moreland, alleging he tried to bribe a woman to recant her allegations against him. Shelley Mays/The Tennessean

CLOSEEx-Nashville Judge Casey Moreland Indicted On Federal Bribery ... Ex-Nashville Judge Casey Moreland Indicted On Federal Bribery ... NASHVILLE JUDGE CASEY MORELANDBio: Nashville Judge Casey Moreland | 0:59

A brief bio of Nashville General Sessions Judge Casey Moreland Stacey Barchenger / Tennessean

CLOSEEx-Nashville Judge Casey Moreland Indicted On Federal Bribery ... Ex-Nashville Judge Casey Moreland Indicted On Federal Bribery ... NASHVILLE JUDGE CASEY MORELANDPotential discipline for judges in Tennessee | 0:37

The Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct, a 12-member body, is charged with investigating and disciplining the state’s judges. If the board finds a judge committed misconduct, here’s what sanctions it can impose. Stacey Barchenger / The Tennessean Stacey Barchenger / The Tennessean

Story Highlights

  • The five counts in the indictment follow Moreland’s arrest in March. He plans to plead not guilty.
  • The counts are related to tampering, bribery and obstruction of justice. Moreland may still face more charges.
  • Federal investigators confirmed a Moreland friend and semi-pro wrestler worked with the FBI.
  • The wrestler, known as “The Beast,” pleaded guilty to one federal count.

Former Nashville Judge Casey Moreland faces five felony counts related to trying to bribe and frame a woman who says he offered her judicial favors in exchange for sex, according to a federal indictment levied Wednesday. The indictment follows Moreland’s arrest in late March on three federal charges[3] alleging obstruction of justice. If convicted on all five counts, Moreland could face a maximum of 80 years in prison and a fine of $1.25 million, according to the U.S. Attorney for Middle Tennessee. In response to the indictment, Moreland’s attorney Peter Strianse said the former judge plans to plead not guilty.

“The indictment returned today against Judge Moreland is simply an accusation and is not evidence of anything,” Strianse said.

“He will plead not guilty and, like all citizens, is presumed innocent.”

Months before the March arrest, media reports chronicled misconduct in the judge’s courtroom, including how Moreland, 59, intervened in a traffic stop on behalf of a woman who was purportedly a paramour and waived jail time[4] for his future son-in-law. But the charges revealed that Moreland may have tried to cover up allegations against him after the reporting began.

“Public corruption of this nature threatens the public’s confidence in our judicial system and the administration of justice,” Assistant Special Agent in Charge Matthew Espenshade of the FBI in Nashville said at the time of Moreland’s arrest. “This is why public corruption is the FBI’s top criminal investigative priority.”

Moreland was initially charged with offering a confidential source, who at the time was working for the FBI, more than $6,000 to make a former lover recant allegations she made against the judge.

This right here gets me out of trouble, Moreland said, according to the FBI documents. The indictment focuses only on the conduct included in the original criminal complaint. As noted in the indictment, the FBI originally started investigating Moreland in January to see whether he used his job as a judge to give favors to two women, Natalie Amos and Leigh Terry, with whom he purportedly had sexual relationships. The fact the indictment focuses only on alleged criminal conduct found after the start of the FBI investigation means more federal charges could be on the way.

The five counts included in the indictment are:

  1. Tampering with a witness by corrupt persuasion: This charge is related to Moreland’s alleged attempts to get Amos to recant her statements against him. Amos told WSMV-TV she had sex with Moreland, and he helped clear some of her legal fees and other problems.

  2. Obstruction of an official proceeding: Moreland is accused of trying to hamstring a federal grand jury by attempting to coax Amos into changing her story.

  3. Obstruction of a criminal investigation by bribery: Moreland is accused of offering to pay Amos $6,000 for her to sign an affidavit that said she had given false statements in media reports.

  4. Retaliation against a witness, victim, or informant: In addition to considering a bribe, Moreland is accused of discussing a plan to plant drugs in Amos’ car and having her pulled over by law enforcement.

  5. Destroying, altering or falsifying records or documents: Federal prosecutors argue Moreland’s attempt to get Amos to sign the affidavit amounts to him orchestrating the creation of a false document in the attempt to influence a federal investigation.

It was this last charge that particularly peeved Strianse, Moreland’s attorney.

“The speaking allegations contained in the indictment refer to an affidavit that was never used or made public,” Strianse said in the statement.

“Remarkably, at the preliminary hearing conducted last month in federal court, the FBI agent testified that the investigation revealed that the affidavit was to be leaked to the media, not used in connection with any official court proceeding. If that is the case, there is a significant issue as to whether such an affidavit could ever trigger a violation of federal law. A criminal charge is different than an indictment. Federal prosecutors can’t take a suspect to trial without an indictment, but they can seek a criminal charge and have that person arrested if they think the person is meddling with their investigation.

‘The Beast’ and Moreland

Moreland relied on the help of a man to try and bribe Amos and orchestrate her phony traffic stop. Until Wednesday, the identity of the man had yet to be confirmed by federal prosecutors, who used him as a confidential informant against Moreland. But they officially revealed the name of the security guard and part-time semi-pro wrestler who helped obtain evidence that could prove damning to the former judge.

At roughly 9:15 a.m. James Pedigo adorned in a black and white pinstripe suit entered a federal courtroom and pleaded guilty to one felony charge of conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding. The charging document says Pedigo worked with C.M. to attempt to corruptly obstruct, influence, and impede a federal grand jury. The indictment says Pedigo met Moreland more than 20 years ago and was a neighbor of Moreland’s sister, but Pedigo and Moreland reconnected recently when Pedigo wanted help getting a job as a security guard in General Sessions court. When he s not working security, Pedigo wrestles under the name The Beast, according to[5]YouTube videos[6]. In the original criminal complaint against Moreland, Pedigo is referred to as CS-1. He originally denied conspiring with Moreland when approached by the FBI, but eventually admitted his involvement in trying to get a former lover of Moreland s to recant her statement.

Pedigo worked with the FBI in the attempts to give Amos $6,000 to recant some of her damaging public statements made about Moreland. He also told Moreland a friend in law enforcement may be able to plant drugs in Amos car and orchestrate a traffic stop. Pedigo was released with conditions, a signal that he was given a deal on his own crime in exchange for his help in Moreland s case. The Moreland criminal complaint said Pedigo was cooperating in the hopes of receiving leniency.

More charges to come?

The FBI investigated whether Moreland “and others” violated federal anti-corruption laws, including honest services fraud and the Hobbs Act covering extortion under color of official right, according to the criminal complaint. In the context of a public official, honest services fraud typically refers to bribery or a kickback. The government can prove a Hobbs Act violation if it shows a public official received an inappropriate payment from a private person in exchange for an official act, or a quid pro quo relationship.

Moreland was released three days after his arrest to home confinement after tendering his resignation to Mayor Megan Barry[7]. The Nashville Democrat had served as a judge since 1998, winning re-election most recently in 2014. He was one of 11 General Sessions judges, who each earns $170,000. Moreland heard exclusively criminal cases, while other judges also hear civil lawsuits, too.

With Moreland’s resignation, he’s in line to earn a $4,500 monthly pension. But any conviction that’s related to official misconduct would nix future payments.

Read more:

Nashville judge Casey Moreland’s pension? $4,500 a month[8]

Timeline: Investigation of Judge Casey Moreland[9]

8 seek appointment to Moreland’s seat on bench[10]

Analysis: Will Moreland’s arrest impact his own rulings?[11]

Reach Stacey Barchenger at [email protected] or 615-726-8968 and on Twitter @sbarchenger[12]. Reach Dave Boucher at [email protected] or 615-259-8892 and on Twitter @Dave_Boucher1[13].

Read or Share this story: http://tnne.ws/2q7vLcX

References

  1. ^

Why are bomb threats made? A look at 5 cases in Halifax

A schizophrenic man wanting mental-health treatment; a young woman evading her stalker: these are just some of the reasons people made bomb threats in the Halifax area, a CBC News investigation has found. From Jan. 1, 2010, to Sept. 30, 2016, Halifax Regional Police investigated 71 bomb threats, but only laid charges in five cases, or seven per cent. That only five cases resulted in charges doesn’t surprise Halifax Regional Police Insp. Reid McCoombs.

“These types of investigations in general tend to have a fairly low solvability rate just due to the nature of how they come in,” he said.

Even with tracing technology for threats made via phone, email or social media, it can be difficult to finger who did it, McCoombs said. In the cases that resulted in charges, the accused individuals generally had a connection to the institutions for which bomb threats were made toward.

Many officers respond

For police, responding to bomb threats is “fairly resource-heavy,” said McCoombs. The response could include patrol officers, a canine unit, an explosives demolition team, forensics people and traffic officers.

“It takes them away from other places, but it certainly wouldn’t inhibit us in responding to an emergency call somewhere else,” said McCoombs.

“Does it mean that some of the lower-priority calls may wait a little longer for a response? Absolutely.”

5 cases result in charges

Using court recordings and information from police files and the Crown, CBC News pieced together the stories behind the five cases that led to charges:

Aug. 10, 2010

On Aug. 10, 2010, Eastern College in downtown Halifax received a bomb threat from a female at 8:30 a.m. Police arrived minutes later and the school was evacuated. The culprit was determined to be A.M., 20, a student at the school. A.M. saw her ex-boyfriend who had been stalking her outside of the school that day. She panicked and went to Park Lane Mall and made a bomb threat by using a pay phone. A.M. was given a conditional discharge, which included one year of probation and 10 hours of community service.

Aug. 12, 2010

On Aug. 12, 2010, 911 received a call at around 7 p.m. reporting a bomb in a briefcase at the Wedgewood Motel in Bedford was going to blow up. Police allege A.D., 52, was the culprit and he was arrested just after 7:30 p.m. on Robie Street in Halifax. Earlier that evening, at around 5:30 p.m., the motel had placed an unwanted-person call involving A.D. At trial, a 12-month peace bond was agreed to, which is essentially an agreement to keep the peace and remain on good behaviour, follow the law and abide by any terms or conditions. It is not an admission of guilt. A.D. was fined $100 and was ordered to stay away from the Wedgewood Motel.

April 12, 2012

On April 12, 2012, a staffer set off a panic alarm at Capital Health’s community mental-health clinic at 7071 Bayers Rd. in Halifax because J.A., 37, was in his office and said he had a knife. J.A. locked the door and stood in front of it, which prevented the worker from leaving although J.A. never told him he wasn’t allowed to leave. J.A. told the worker he was doing it because he wanted treatment for his schizophrenia. Police took J.A. to the hospital. He was later found to be criminally responsible and was charged with having a knife and with unlawful confinement.

Four days later, J.A. was at home and phoned in a bomb threat to 911 stating that he had a bomb in his residence. Police went there and J.A. was taken to the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre in Halifax for treatment. While there, he placed a call to 911 from a telephone for patients in the waiting room and said there was a bomb in the parkade. J.A. was charged with public mischief and false messages. For the four offences, J.A. was given a suspended sentence and 18 months of probation. Conditions included to keep the peace and be of good behaviour, report to mental health authorities and follow assessments or treatments recommended by them, abstain from possessing or consuming alcohol and illegal drugs, and to live with his mother at her Halifax-area home.

Oct. 9, 2014

The Crown alleged that on Oct. 9, 2014, while riding on the route 60 bus in Dartmouth, 37-year-old T.N. warned two security guards on the bus that he was going to blow up the nearby Nova Scotia Hospital.

“You need to warn your friends, I’m going to blow up the hospital at nine o’clock. My message is going to be heard and they’re going to comply with my requests,” he allegedly said. At trial, T.N. said the guards misheard him. He said he told them he was planning a peaceful protest. The defence rested its case on May 5, 2016, with a decision to be released by the judge on July 28, 2016. T.N. died on June 23 due to complications from kidney disease. The charges were stayed.

Sept. 10, 2015

Between Aug. 16 and Sept. 11, 2015, K.P., 58, made multiple threats, including death threats, toward security personnel who worked at the Dartmouth Shopping Centre at 118 Wyse Road. Police allege that on Sept. 10 K.P. phoned in a bomb threat to the business that provided security services for the mall, Atlantic Private Protection Service. In the agreed statement of facts read aloud at trial, no bomb threat was mentioned. K.P. was given five months of house arrest, followed by 18 months of probation.

Real bombs are rare

Security expert Dr. Steve Albrecht told CBC News last September that there’s a critical difference in the intentions of people who make bomb threats and actual bombers.[1]

“The bomb-threat maker doesn’t typically have any desire to blow up the building: the bomber does. In fact, the bomber does not want warning and does not want his device to be found, whereas the bomb-threat maker knows there isn’t a device. They just like being disruptive,” said the San Diego-based school and workplace violence expert. McCoombs said he couldn’t recall any instances where bomb threats investigated by Halifax police turned out to be real. There’s at least one instance in Canada where a bomb was found after a person made a threat. Roger Charles Bell, a P.E.I. man known as the Loki 7 bomber[2], carried out a string of bombings. In 1995, he phoned police with a tip about one he placed at a Charlottetown propane station, which they found and removed.

References

  1. ^ critical difference in the intentions of people who make bomb threats and actual bombers. (www.cbc.ca)
  2. ^ P.E.I. man known as the Loki 7 bomber (www.cbc.ca)
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