A general sessions judge was charged today in a federal criminal complaint with attempting to obstruct justice through bribery and witness tampering.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Acting U.S. Attorney Jack Smith of the Middle District of Tennessee and Assistant Special Agent in Charge Matthew Espenshade of the FBI made the announcement.
Cason “Casey” Moreland, 59, of Nashville, was charged with obstruction of justice and witness tampering in a complaint filed in the Middle District of Tennessee. Moreland was arrested this morning and is expected to make his initial appearance later this afternoon.
“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.”
“The allegations set forth in the complaint are some of the most egregious abuses of power that I have ever seen,” 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.”
“Public corruption of this nature threatens the public's confidence in our judicial system and the administration of justice,” said Assistant Special Agent in Charge Espenshade. “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.”
According to the complaint, Moreland served as a general sessions judge in Davidson County, Tennessee, and allegedly violated federal anti-corruption statutes by soliciting, accepting and extorting things of value 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 Feb. 1, 2017, when agents attempted to interview him. The complaint alleges that Moreland knew that an individual was a material witness in this investigation and that the witness had made statements implicating his criminal conduct.
The complaint alleges that beginning in approximately March 1, 2017, Moreland took steps to obstruct and interfere with the federal investigation by attempting to have the witness sign an affidavit recanting prior statements about Moreland.
Specifically, the complaint alleges that Moreland devised a scheme to pay several thousand dollars to the witness in exchange for changing that witness’s statements about Moreland. Moreland also conveyed his desire to orchestrate a traffic stop where the witness would be arrested for drugs that had been previously planted on the witness. To conceal his involvement in the scheme, Moreland allegedly instructed another individual to use a burner phone purchased under a fictitious name and speak through an intermediary when corresponding with the witness.
The complaint also alleges that on March 11, 2017, Moreland gave the other individual an affidavit, written as though the witness had authored it and paid the other individual $5,100 cash to insure that his fingerprints would not be on the affidavit. During subsequent conversations, the other individual told Moreland that the witness had agreed to sign the affidavit for an additional $1,000, and Moreland allegedly provided an additional $1,000 cash to pay the witness.
A criminal complaint is merely an accusation. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.
The FBI investigated the case. Trial Attorney Lauren Bell of the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Cecil Vandevender of the Middle District of Tennessee prosecuted the case.