HATTIESBURG, Miss. — Federal investigators question more than $274,000 in checks that Charles Bolton and his wife Linda cashed from two businesses between 2009 and 2013.

WDAM-TV (http://bit.ly/2d0IISt) reports IRS Special Agent Bradley Luker testified Wednesday that there was no evidence of what happened to the cash from two businesses, the Sports 22 restaurant and Hall Avenue Package Store, owned by the chief deputy of the Forrest County Sheriff’s Office and his wife.

Tuesday, prosecutors introduced evidence showing people wrote checks in exchange for goods and services, but they were recorded as loans on records kept by the Boltons. Loans aren’t taxable as income.

The Boltons’ accountant, Renee Moore, testified Wednesday that she was unaware that some checks from the Manheim auto auction to the Boltons for providing food at auctions were labeled as loans. From 2009 to 2013, Manheim paid the Boltons $384,019.44, with $76,607.54 was listed as loans.

Lawyers for the Boltons have suggested fault lies with Hattiesburg attorney John Lee, saying Lee cashed checks at the businesses to evade his own taxes. Testimony Wednesday showed Lee is being investigated on tax matters. However, checks from others have been introduced. Defense lawyers have also blamed sloppy accounting.

Charles Bolton was a key figure in the electoral dispute between Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny DuPree and unsuccessful challenger Dave Ware in 2013. A jail inmate alleged Bolton promised to release him if he voted for DuPree. Bolton hotly disputed those claims. DuPree’s wife collected absentee ballots at the jail, which Bolton runs.

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. Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., wrote to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch in April questioning prosecutions of Fairley and Charles Bolton. Thompson wrote that he was getting complaints that supporters of DuPree have been singled out since the city’s contested 2013 election.

Assistant Attorney General Peter J. Kadzik replied to Thompson Aug. 19, saying allegations were being reviewed by the department’s Office of Professional Responsibility and Office of the Inspector General.

Testimony is scheduled to continue Thursday.


Information from: WDAM-TV, http://www.wdam.com