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Monday, September 18, 2017
Ana's time is a coming
Charlie Morris Heads to Prison
By Alex Denis |
Posted: Tue 10:13 PM, Aug 11, 2009
Newschannel 7’s Alex Denis says, "Former Sheriff Charlie Morris faced a maximum sentence of 85 years in federal prison for his crimes. In court Tuesday morning he was sentenced to nearly six years behind bars."
"I accept the sentence imposed upon me today and I make no excuses for my behavior whatsoever. I just wanted to say I'm sorry to the people of Okaloosa County," says former sheriff Charlie Morris.
Standing on the Federal Court House steps with tears in his eyes, Charlie Morris accepted responsibility for his creation of a kick-back scheme that stole taxpayer's money and apologized for hurting the people of Okaloosa County.
In a packed courtroom Tuesday morning judge Lacey Collier listened to a similar apology then had some comments of his own.
Before handing out Morris' sentence judge Collier said Morris had tarnished the badge of every law enforcement officer in the area and for that he must bear the responsibility.
Morris was sentenced to 5 years and 11 months behind bars- the maximum sentence of the recommend guideline noted in the sentencing report.
"Mr. Morris is satisfied. It's a fair sentence," says Morris’ attorney Joe Hammons.
Morris was also ordered to pay $212,000 in restitution to the Okaloosa County Board of County Commissioners and forfeit $194,000 in property.
Prosecutor Randy Hensel says he is happy with Morris' punishment and hopes it helps re-build the public's faith in the Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office.
"I hope this case and the prosecution helps restore in the citizens of Okaloosa county respect and faith in law enforcement and I hope this is not a reflection by the public on the good work of the road deputies and the men and women of the Okaloosa County Sheriff's Department," says Hensel.
Before leaving the courtroom, Morris' wife Barbara, his pastor and other friends and family members sat quietly as Morris read a written statement thanking the federal agents who investigated the case saying:
"There is no doubt that they saved me from a fast track to self destruction. I am convinced that when I come out on the other side of this tragedy, I will be a better man, husband, son, brother, father, grandfather and friend to everyone with whom I am blessed to share what remains of my life."
In the mean time Morris says he takes full responsibility for his actions.
"I want to apologize and say I'm sorry to the good people of Okaloosa County and to the former employees of the Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office. I made some abomination decisions in which I take full responsibility."
The court has order Morris to turn himself in September 28th to begin serving his sentence.
Morris' assistant Teresa Adams will be sentenced August 25th.
Kickback Scheme: Florida Sheriff Indicted For Allegedly Doling Out Bonuses Then Stealing the Money
·By MEGAN CHUCHMACH
April 27, 2009The allegations sound like they could be pointing to the latest Wall St. scandal: bonuses, a trip to Las Vegas and illegal financial transactions. But, instead, the charges surround a county sheriff in small-town Florida, who is to be arraigned this morning on counts of federal conspiracy, theft and money laundering.
Okaloosa County Sheriff Charles "Charlie" Morris, 59, and his former administrative director, Teresa Adams, 50, are alleged to have run a kickback scheme in which they gave fictitious bonuses to sheriff's department employees, who were then directed to return some or all of the bonus money to them via cash or cashier's check. The employees were reportedly told the money would be given to charity.
But a joint investigation by the FBI and IRS alleges that after the sheriff handed out $194,002 in bonuses, $115,500 was returned in kickbacks.
Morris and Adams gave bonuses to 15 employees ranging from $3000 to $15,000, with kickbacks ranging from $1000 to $12,000, according to the federal indictment federal indictment returned by a grand jury.
"It was further part of this conspiracy that the accounting entries and payroll records… pertaining to the employees who received these illegal bonus payments with subsequent kickback payments were falsified so as to conceal from auditors' review the nature and degree of the kickbacks ultimately received" by the sheriff, according to the indictment.
Morris and Adams were arrested Feb. 27 – she in Florida, while the sheriff was apprehended by federal agents during a trip to Las Vegas. A federal indictment was returned against them last week. They are expected to be arraigned on the charges this morning in federal court.
Florida Gov. Charlie Crist suspended Morris in February and appointed an interim sheriff while the case plays out.
The interim sheriff – Ed Spooner – told ABCNews.com that "a lot of innocent people were hurt" by what's happened.
"Here's the sheriff of the county… He's the president of the Florida Sheriffs Association, he's been in office for 12 years, just been re-elected," Spooner said. "There was no reason for an employee not in the investigative field to believe he did anything wrong. He just preyed on these people."
Florida Sheriff Gives Statement to ABC News Affiliate
Morris did not immediately return a call from ABCNews.com, but in a statement to ABC News affiliate WEAR-TV, he said, "The allegations against me are serious and I have retained counsel to represent me. I have cooperated with the government in its investigation and I look forward to a full and fair hearing on the charges. My attorneys have advised me not to answer any questions at this time, and I am following the advice of my lawyers."
Adams, who was fired after she was arrested, could not be reached for comment.
If convicted on all six counts, Morris and Adams could face 75 years in prisons and up to $1.25 million in fines.