EVANSVILLE — Vanderburgh County Circuit Court Judge Carl Heldt on Tuesday sentenced Ron Morgan, former chief deputy of the Daviess County Sheriff’s Department, to one year of probation for ghost employment.
Although ghost employment is a Class D felony, the judge had the option of treating it as a Class A misdemeanor, and Morgan’s attorney, John A. Goodridge of Evansville, requested that Judge Heldt do so. Morgan could have faced six months to three years incarceration and up to a $10,000 fine if convicted on the felony charge.
“When it’s a Class D felony, the judge can treat it as a Class A misdemeanor,” said Vanderburgh County Special Prosecutor Stan Levco, who moved to dismiss original charges of bribery and assisting a criminal following Judge Heldt’s acceptance of a plea agreement filed Oct. 8.
Heldt was ordered in January to hear Morgan’s case after Daviess Superior Court Judge Dean A. Sobecki recused himself due to conflict of interest. Levco was assigned to present the state’s case against Morgan, who originally was indicted by a grand jury in October 2011 for bribery and assisting a criminal, both Class C felonies, while employed by the Daviess County Sheriff’s Office. A Class C felony carries a term of two to eight years incarceration and possible fine up to $10,000.
The charges followed an Indiana State Police investigation into allegations of official misconduct that surfaced during a drug investigation by the sheriff’s department. According to an ISP press release at that time, a female subject in the investigation told officers Morgan asked her for sexual favors in return for protection from arrest and also allegedly shared privileged information with her.
“Our position is that the substance of the indictment was wholly without merit, but my client did have a relationship with a person while on duty,” Goodridge said when explaining the basis for the plea agreement. “That person had no criminal involvement whatsoever, so that can form a basis for ghost employment under the statute as it’s written.”
From Levco’s point of view, he said he believed there was a chance he wouldn’t be able to prove the original charges beyond a reasonable doubt, so he and Goodridge worked out the agreement.
Under the plea agreement, the former chief deputy was charged with one count of ghost employment — accepting a salary from the sheriff’s department while engaged in activities not related to performance of his duties. It states: “That between November 1, 2009, and August 31, 2011, in Daviess County, State of Indiana, Ronald W. Morgan, a public servant employed by a governmental entity, the Daviess County Sheriff’s Department, knowingly accepted property, to-wit: United States currency in the form of a salary for the performance of his duties as Chief Deputy Sheriff of Daviess County, while engaging in activity not related to the performance of his duties or the operation of the governmental entity, to-wit: Ronald W. Morgan, between November 1, 2009, and August 31, 2011, while on duty and in uniform repeatedly engaged in inappropriate sexual activity with a female, T.J.”
Daviess County Sheriff Jerry Harbstreit, with full endorsement by his deputies, issued a statement Tuesday. In it, he said: “This has been a very difficult and stressful experience for our sheriff’s office.
“Many individuals have spent a considerable amount of time, money and resources on this case.
“Ronald W. Morgan’s inappropriate decisions and conduct impaired the orderly operation of the Daviess County Sheriff’s Office, subjected his fellow officers to ridicule, and violated the public trust of the community, all contrary to the established rules and regulations of our office.
“Getting back to normal can be a difficult process after an experience of this kind. We are hurt and sorry these events occurred, but being naturally resilient, we are committed to conduct ourselves, whether on duty or off duty, in a manner that will not bring dishonor or disrepute.”
Morgan and his wife, Mary, also released a statement, which said: “We are so very thankful now to have closure. Few people know the toll this has taken on our family and the community, and we are hopeful now the healing can begin.
“While this nightmare has been ever-present for more than one year, my family and I could not have withstood this challenge without the unwavering support of family and friends. There is a place in heaven for those who provided us strength through prayers, hugs and kind words.
“For now, my family and I ask that others respect our request for privacy as we try to move forward and distance ourselves from this ordeal.”
- Local News
- Wednesday's police report CITY REPORT Tuesday 2:01 p.m. - Steve Myers, 604 Sunset Ave., said his strawberry patch was run over. A neighbor was contacted and the situation was resolved. COUNTY REPORT Monday 7:57 p.m. - An employee of Par-T-Pac liquors in Montgomery said two ma
- ND board looks at handbook ND board looks at handbook BY Lindsay Owens Times Herald
- Kelley sworn in as new parks supervisor Mayor Joe Wellman administered the oath of office to Kip Kelley, the city's new parks and recreation supervisor, on Tuesday. Present at the ceremony were Mike Singleton, president of the Washington City Council, and John Baldwin, vice president of th
- Coats rallies Republican faithful at Lincoln Day dinner Indiana Sen. Dan Coats called upon Republicans to get engaged in the upcoming elections. Coats made the comments in front of about 250 people at the annual Lincoln-Reagan Day dinner Tuesday. "There is a lot at stake and everyone needs to be engaged,"
- Sports Briefs Hatchets lose to Boonville BOONVILLE -- The Washington softball team lost in a Big 8 conference game to 3A No. 1 Boonville Monday night 10-0 in six innings. Senior pitcher Ashley Elliot went all six innings for Washington, striking out three. Washi
- Shuttered theater part of push to improve quality of life Shuttered theater part of push to improve quality of life By Mike Grant Times Herald
- New initiative aimed to keep teen drivers safe With three area high schools set to hold proms this weekend, a group of local elected officials and volunteers are working to educate teens on safe driving. The newly-formed group is the Daviess County Child Fatality Review Team. The team comprises o
- Shots fired at officer's homes in Knox County VINCENNES — Early Sunday, the Vincennes Police Department began investigating a report of damage to a marked city police vehicle parked outside the home of an officer. Upon further investigation, it became apparent that the damage was from a gunshot.
- Tuesday's police report CITY REPORT Monday 7:09 a.m. - Randall Dexter, 511 Maxwell Ave., reported a scooter was missing. Sunday 11:05 a.m. - An employee of Chuckle's, 201 N.E. Fifth St., reported a drive-off worth $7.40 in gas. The driver returned 15 minutes later to pay fo
- Barr-Reeve students reap benefits of 'Pennies for Playgrounds' MONTGOMERY -- Last fall, Barr-Reeve students in kindergarten through fifth grade raised money for new playground equipment that would be purchased through a matching grant through Gametime. During the "Pennies for the Playground" campaign, students
- More Local News Headlines