by: Rob Parsons
A Merced County employee faces possible bribery charges after his arrest late Tuesday on suspicion of offering to reduce fines and fees owed to the county for at least one woman in exchange for “dates,” the Merced County Sheriff’s Department confirmed.
Anthony J. Thompson was booked at the Merced County Jail on suspicion of a single felony count of bribery. He was still in custody late Tuesday in lieu of $10,000 bail.
Thompson, 53, is employed as a collection’s supervisor at the Merced County Revenue and Reimbursement Department, Merced County spokesman Mike North confirmed.
“At this point, it’s too early for us to comment on the matter,” North said Tuesday night.
Deputy Delray Shelton said at least one woman has accused Thompson of offering to reduce the amount of money owed to the county in exchange for “dates.” It was not clear Tuesday exactly what those “dates” would have involved.
“Investigators have learned that he offered to manipulate an account if she agreed to go out with him,” Shelton said. It wasn’t clear if the account in question belonged to the woman or one of her family members, he said.
Allegations surfaced about three weeks ago, deputies said.
Shelton said it was still too early to know whether any other possible victims may be involved in similar incidents. Deputies are continuing with the investigation to try to determine the extent of alleged misconduct.
Sheriff’s detectives began questioning Thompson some time before 6 p.m. Tuesday and he was booked at the jail several hours later, authorities said.
The Revenue and Reimbursement Department is an independent division under the Merced County Treasurer and Tax Collector’s Office and is primarily responsible for court collections and other smaller county accounts, according to Treasurer-Tax Collector Karen Adams.
Adams released a brief statement Tuesday night saying she was unaware of Thompson’s arrest and had “no further comment at this time.”
Anyone else with information about the case is asked to contact the Sheriff’s Department.