Davidson County General Sessions Judge Casey Moreland was arrested by FBI agents at his home Tuesday morning and faces federal charges for obstructing criminal investigations, WSMV-TV Channel 4 reports.
The charges include tampering with a witness, victim or an informant and retaliating against a witness, victim or an informant, according to documents filed in U.S. District Court.
After his arrest, Moreland appeared before a magistrate and it was decided that he will remain in custody until Friday, when there will be a probable cause hearing and detention hearing.
“The allegations set forth in the indictment set forth egregious abuses of power by a judge sitting here in Nashville,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Jack Smith at a press conference. “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.”
If convicted, Moreland faces up to 20 years in prison.
Mayor Megan Barry released a statement calling on Moreland to resign.
“Nashville deserves to have absolute trust in our judiciary, and Casey Moreland, based upon the allegations in the federal complaint, seems to have clearly violated that trust,” Barry said. “Like all Americans, Judge Moreland deserves the chance to defend himself in court. However, resigning his position now would seem to be in the best interest of the Nashvillians who depend upon the integrity of our General Sessions Court judges to rule in a fair and unbiased manner.”
In January, the FBI opened a criminal investigation into whether Moreland and others solicited, accepted and extorted things of value, including sexual favors and other things, from people with whom he had close personal relationships, in return for performing official acts to benefit them. Moreland is accused of obstructing the investigation by orchestrating a plan to pay a woman to recant previous statements about him and to plant drugs on her in hopes she would be arrested and her credibility would be destroyed.
According to his bio on the General Sessions Court website, Moreland is a Nashville native who graduated from Goodpasture High School and earned degrees from the University of Tennessee-Martin and the Nashville School of Law. He was in private practice for 12 years before becoming a judge. In 2003, he founded the General Sessions Treatment Court, which created a special docket for substance abuse offenders and has been a model for similar programs statewide. Moreland is also an instructor at the Nashville School of Law.
Last month in an interview with WKRN News 2, Moreland confessed to having had a romantic relationship with a woman who went through his court. He also talked about his own problems with drinking too much and said he now realizes he’s an alcoholic. However, he insisted he has never been drunk or hungover while on the bench.
Moreland has stepped aside from his presiding role in General Sessions Court but has said he wants to finish his term as judge.
“I hope to get back just as soon as I can, but I want to be clean and sober and clear-minded and have my depression in order, and just have everything going in the right direction,” he told WKRN News 2 in the interview last month.