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
- Washington schools ready to begin classes The Washington Community School Board approved the hiring of several staff members as officials prepare to begin classes next week. The board hired three additional teachers, made 16 extra-curricular appointments and approved three volunteer position
- Colts release RB Rainey ANDERSON — Just two days after earning praise for his playmaking ability from head coach Chuck Pagano, running back Chris Rainey was waived by the Indianapolis Colts on Monday morning.The news was broken in a press release around 8:30 a.m. and later
- Today's police report CITY REPORT Tuesday 8 a.m. - Terry Evans, 100 W. Main St., reported a go-cart stolen from his property. The cart was found in a nearby alley and extra patrol was requested. 1:33 p.m. - A female caller at 7 E. Main St., Apt. 3, said a male stole a ce
- Illinois man faces multiple sex charges in Daviess County An investigation into an event last May in a Washington store has led to multiple charges against an Illinois man. Washington City Police have charged Stephen Michael Mulkey, 26, of Lawrenceville, Illinois with attempted child molesting, performance
- New gateway to Washington already raising hopes for development Work on Gateway Drive keeps moving forward and local officials continue to look at the area for potential commercial and industrial development. Gateway Drive is expected to provide Washington with a new entrance to the community off of U.S. 50 to Bu
- Washington City Council approves rezoning request Washington will be expanding its housing options after the Washington City Council approved an ordinance to rezone land on Bussard Road. The property, owned by Jason Knepp of J and L Home Center, is just over 10 acres and will be rezoned Residential
- State Haitian organization holds town hall meeting The Haitian Association of Indiana hosted a town hall meeting for local Haitians Sunday, officially meeting the largest Haitian population outside of Indianapolis. Around 50 Haitian residents, along with 30 other local residents, listened to state an
- Today's police report CITY REPORT Monday 2:25 p.m. – A female caller said two juvenile males were picking up and throwing green apples near 310 Ogdon St. The apples were clogging storm drains. The males were then asked to pick up the apples. 8:55 a.m. – An employee of Che
CR 900 East project stays on schedule
Phase 1 of the expansion project on CR 900E (Odon-Cannelburg Road) is due to be completed this week and officials say they expect the bulk of the work to be done on time. "They have a number of small things that need to be finished," said Daviess Cou
- Leg of I-69 project now due to open by end of 2015 INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Indiana Department of Transportation now plans for the Interstate 69 extension to reach Bloomington by the end of 2015, a year later than originally planned. INDOT spokesman Will Wingfield tells the Evansville Courier & Press
- More Local News Headlines