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United States v. Anson

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville Division

June 18, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
SHANNON L. ANSON, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          David J. Hale, Judge United States District Court

         Defendant Shannon L. Anson is charged with bribery in connection with programs receiving federal funds. (Docket No. 1, PageID # 9-10) Anson, as an employee of the Kentucky Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ), allegedly accepted more than $50, 000 from Defendants Clifford Frank Wilkinson and Erica Beth Bowen in exchange for favorable treatment of their “equine employment training center, ” Bluegrass Training and Therapy Center, Inc., which had contracts with DJJ. (Id., PageID # 3; see id., PageID # 9-10) Anson has moved to suppress a statement she gave to agents from the Department of Justice Office of Inspector General, arguing that she was coerced into making the statement. (D.N. 40) Because the United States has demonstrated by a preponderance of the evidence that Anson's statement was voluntary, the Court will deny her motion to suppress.

         I.

         Anson was interviewed by Special Agents Alicia Vazquez and Patrick Schumacher of the Department of Justice Office of Inspector General on May 11, 2016. (D.N. 40-3, PageID # 142-44) Before the interview, Anson was presented with an OIG form labeled “WARNINGS AND ASSURANCES TO EMPLOYEE REQUESTED TO PROVIDE INFORMATION ON A VOLUNTARY BASIS.” (D.N. 40-2) The agents reviewed the form with Anson, who acknowledged at the outset of the interview that she understood the interview was voluntary. (D.N. 40-3, PageID # 144-45) The form describes the investigation as “pertain[ing] to[] allegations relating to improprieties with DOJ [g]rants related to the Bluegrass Training & Therapy Center (BTTC).” (D.N. 40-2) The form further provides:

This is a voluntary interview. Accordingly, you do not have to answer questions. No. disciplinary action will be taken against you if you choose not to answer questions.
Any statement you furnish may be used as evidence in any future criminal proceedings or agency disciplinary proceeding, or both.

(Id.) Anson's signature appears under the “Waiver” section of the form, which states: “I understand the warnings and assurances stated above and I am willing to make a statement and answer questions. No. promises or threats have been made to me and no pressure or coercion of any kind has been used against me.” (Id.)

         The interview began with background questions concerning Anson's employment at DJJ. (D.N. 40-3, PageID # 146-49) Schumacher then asked Anson about the extent of her relationship with Wilkinson and Bowen and her connection to BTTC. (Id., PageID # 149-51) When asked whether she had ever had employment outside DJJ, Anson stated that she had done “case management” with an entity called Family Links. (Id., PageID # 151-55) The questioning then returned to BTTC:

MR. SCHUMACHER: Have you ever received any money from BTTC?
MS. ANSON: No. MR. SCHUMACHER: I would like to remind you what we stated before we got going here that if there's any information that you know is not truthful, this would be a good time not to be covering over it.
One of the things that we've already done is issued a No. of subpoenas to their bank and you have a bank account with PNC, correct?
MS. ANSON: Yes.
MR. SCHUMACHER: So can you explain why there's a No. of checks from BTTC in the amount of $1, 000 beginning in 2013 going through 2015 issued out in your name?
MS. ANSON: (No audible response.)
MR. SCHUMACHER: Would you like me to re-ask the question?
MS. ANSON: No. MR. SCHUMACHER: Have you received any money from BTTC, or from Erica Bowen or Jay Wilkinson directly?
MS. ANSON: Well, that's not what, I guess I, I guess we're done here because- MR. SCHUMACHER: Okay. Is there any other questions [sic] that I could ask ...

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