Natalie Edwards was born in Richmond, Virginia on March 11, 1978 to Birdie and Archie “Woody” Sours. Woody Sours spent over 30 years in the Air Force with time spent in conflict zones. Birdie Sours is Chickahominy, and Edwards carries her heritage proudly, telling federal Judge Gregory Woods in June of 2021: ”Your Honor, I’m an Indigenous matriarch warrior whose spirit cannot be broken.” To understand Edwards, one must understand her background. The Chickahominy (The Coarse Ground Corn People) are part of Algonquian tribes, and are led by a tribal council of 12 men and women. In history, the Chickahominy people played a role as a “police force” and a “warrior force” and those same attributes can be seen in the life of Edwards, who takes great pride in her tribe’s role in America.
As a child, Edwards was known as “the little one” and was very playful, energetic, and honest. She enjoyed sports, and played them throughout her life along with her twin brother and sister. In 1995, her sister was coming home on a surprise visit to watch Edwards play a softball game, and was involved in a vehicular accident and died. Edwards found herself isolated and angry after the death of her sister, and although she portrayed an extrovert outside, inside she was experiencing feelings of loneliness and outrage. Edwards was voted homecoming queen, never letting people see her suffering. Edwards went to school six days a week, as Saturday was indigenous studies at the Chickahominy Tribal Center, Charles City, Virginia. She learned about Chickahominy history, culture, beadwork and regalia. On Sunday, her family went to a Baptist church and Edwards remains Baptist to this day. She also embraces Native American faith, and worships an all-powerful, all-knowing Creator or “Master Spirit.”
Edwards was an honors student at John Rolfe Middle School and Verona High School, graduating in 1996. Edwards played softball, soccer, gymnastics, volleyball, and other sports. She was also musically gifted, playing first chair cello.
After high school graduation, Edwards attended North Carolina Wesleyan College in Rocky Mountain, North Carolina. She was recruited there by the softball coach, John Brackett, who proved to be her mentor. Edwards received two majors, Pre-Med and Biology, and two minors, Criminal Justice and Physics.
At this point in her life, Edwards wanted to be a veterinarian or a physician, but could not secure any federal grants, so she applied to Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) in Richmond, Virginia where she got her Masters degree in Education, and her teaching certificate in 2002. Her first “real job” was as a science teacher and she taught for five years.
9/11 happened, and Edwards had children of Pentagon employees in her class, and saw how it affected so many people. 9/11 changed her life trajectory, and she decided to work in national security with the federal government. Edwards knew she had the skill set to help her nation, and applied to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and simultaneously, to a prestigious program at VCU for a PhD in Education.
Edwards was invited to an interview with the FBI, and discussed with the Special Agent in Charge (SAC) about her dilemma in choosing between the FBI and the PhD in education, explaining the honor of being accepted into the VCU program. The SAC noted that his wife was a teacher, and Edwards had until age 37 to qualify as an Agent, so she should seriously consider attending VCU. The SAC advised he would recommend Edwards if she reapplied later to the FBI. “Once again,” Edwards remarked, “it was a man who sponsored and mentored me to make the second crucial decision in my life.”
From 2005 to 2007, Edwards attended VCU, receiving her PhD, and thereafter applied for jobs utilizing the website, USAJOBS. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), was the first to contact Edwards and she took a job as a Learning Specialist and “fell in love” training ATF agents from 2007 to 2010. In 2011 Edwards was sent to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Office of Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) and under ODNI was sent to the Department of the Treasury in 2014. At the Treasury Department, Edwards was a Senior Advisor in the Intelligence Division and had oversight in the financial crimes area, known as FinCEN. The Treasury Department notes, “FinCEN exists to safeguard the financial system from illicit use and combat money laundering and promote national security through the collection, analysis, and dissemination of financial intelligence. FinCEN carries out this mission by receiving and maintaining financial transactions data, analyzing and disseminating that data for law enforcement purposes and building global cooperation with counterpart organizations in other countries.”
FinCEN operates under regulatory functions under the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA), and it shares information and coordinates with foreign financial intelligence unit (FIU) counterparts. FinCEN is the FIU for the United States, and is one of more than 100 FIUs making up the Egmont Group, an international entity focused on information sharing and cooperation among FIUs. Countries like Russia, and other countries with frosty relationships to the United States cooperate in this venture because secrecy is assured, and the sharing of information helps track terrorist groups, tax evaders, narcotics traffickers and perpetrators of fraud. A financial institution is required to file a Suspicious Activity Report (SAR) no later than thirty calendar days after the detection of suspicious activity. Most people are aware of the fact that cash transactions exceeding $10,000 trigger a SARs.
Edwards was excellent in her job at extrapolating information from the SARs, and that is how she discovered that the Treasury Department was concealing information from Congress on certain individuals and entities that appeared to Edwards to be politically motivated. She felt American lives were lost due to the ineptitude of the Treasury Department, and Edwards felt it was her duty, by her oath of office, to notify Treasury officials and members of Congress.
Edwards confronted the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of the Treasury. She advised him of the illegal activity and partisan political use of records within the Treasury Department. He told her: “You make $170,000 a year, I’d advise you to go back to your cushy office with the window and forget everything you have seen and heard. It is not worth what you are up against.” Edwards looked him in the eye and responded: “You can not put a price on an American life.”
Part II of the Natalie Mayflower Sours Edwards story will continue next week on Whistleblower Network News.
To contribute to the GoFundMe for Edwards, click here.
To sign the Petition to Pardon Edwards, click here.