Davidson County, Tennessee Judge Cason “Casey” Moreland (59) was arrested Tuesday, March, 28th and charged, in a federal criminal complaint, with attempting to obstruct justice through bribery and witness tampering. Judge Moreland is accused of running a quid pro quo that allows defendants to get out of infractions in exchange for sexual favors. Furthermore, once Moreland found out that he was being investigated for this crime, it is alleged that he also bribed potential witnesses in order to recant testimony.
Everyone has had the sick feeling of peering into a rearview mirror and seeing the reflection of flashing blue and red lights, knowing that they are getting pulled over for a traffic ticket. What usually results from that exchange is a wasted afternoon in a packed courtroom, and the driver’s pockets being drained of their hard-earned money for speeding fines and court fees. However, certain women drivers in Tennessee allegedly got more than they bargained for when they attempted to resolve their traffic tickets. According to a criminal complaint, Judge Moreland has been under investigation by the FBI for possible corruption since February. Allegedly, the Judge traded official acts, such as the dismissal of court fees, fines and costs for sexual favors.
An unnamed witness appears to be the whistle-blower in this matter. According to Law.com, she told the FBI she believed Moreland offered his help with her legal troubles with the expectation of receiving sex in return. The the two started their relationship in April 2016. The woman told the FBI that Moreland helped her eliminate court costs and traffic ticket fines, got an interlock breathalyzer removed from her car, and aided her in avoiding a ticket for a suspended license during a traffic stop, the complaint states.
The complaint speaks about one particular situation in detail. Reportedly, the unnamed witness exchanged text messages thanking Moreland for alleviating her of fines and court costs. Moreland then explicitly texted her “You now officially owe me!! Haha.” He subsequently, invited her out for drinks. However, on her way to the bar, she was again stopped by police and detained for driving without a license. She called the judge again, while in custody. Judge Moreland called the police officer’s supervisor and requested that she be allowed to drive away without a ticket because she was on her way to a meeting in his chambers. The police officer obliged. Apparently, the two met in Judge Moreland’s chambers for sex. A few days passed and she texted him “thanks”, to which he apparently responded that he had “just used [his] superpowers” then added that his “desk still has butt marks on it!!”
Feeling used and exploited, the witness then went to the FBI where she gave the aforementioned statement. Eventually Judge Moreland, was notified he was being investigated on these allegations. This is when things went from bad to worse, according to the indictment. The Judge purchased a “burner” phone, because he feared his conversations were being monitored. He was right. The FBI states Moreland contacted a intermediary who he attempted to agree to correspond with the whistle-blowing witness. Unbeknownst to him, the intermediary notified the FBI as well. Therefore, the intermediary recorded his interactions with Moreland. The Judge’s plan was for the intermediary to get the witness intoxicated and influence her to sign an affidavit in which she would recant her statements. Additionally, he offered to pay the witness $6,100.00 to sign the affidavit. If this didn’t work, the Judge sought to destroy the witness’ credibility. Moreland schemed to plant drugs on the witness and have a police officer pull her over in a traffic stop.
As a result of attempting to dish out money in exchange for silence, Judge Moreland was charged with the federal bribery statute, 18 U.S.C. § 201(b), which criminalizes the corrupt promise or transfer of any thing of value to influence an official act of a federal official, a fraud on the United States, or the commission or omission of any act in violation of the official’s duty. For attempting to get the witness to change her story and the drug planting scheme, the judge was charged with the crime of witness tampering. In federal cases this is defined by statute 18 U.S.C.§ 1512. The punishment for such an offense is up to 20 years if physical force was used or attempted, and up to 10 years if physical force was only threatened. The tampering need not have actually been successful in order for it to be criminal. In all, Moreland faces up to 20 years in prison, if convicted.
In what can only be described as an understatement, acting U.S. Attorney Jack Smith said at a news conference. “As the conduct outlined in the charging document makes clear, allowing Judge Moreland to continue to exercise the vast power over the lives of individuals as a sitting judge can severely jeopardize the constitutional protections afforded to our citizens,” Additionally, Nashville Mayor Megan Barry said Moreland’s immediate resignation “would seem to be in the best interest” of the city. If the allegations are proven to be true, this case will no doubt be a precedent as one of the worst cases of abuse of power in history.