By Andrea McCann
EVANSVILLE — A plea agreement filed Monday in Vanderburgh County Circuit Court by Special Prosecutor Stan Levco in the State of Indiana vs Ronald W. Morgan outlines terms of the agreement and Morgan’s rights under those terms.
The agreement is for a plea of guilty to one count of ghost employment, a Class D felony. Morgan’s attorney, John A. Goodridge of Evansville, provided the Times Herald with information for that charge and with a copy of the plea agreement. The information 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.”
Morgan 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. The bribery indictment states he “... solicited and/or accepted property from Janessa Edwards-McCracken in exchange for information to avoid prosecution for dealing in methamphetamine and/or possession of methamphetamine.” The indictment for assisting a criminal states “... Ronald W. Morgan did provide information to Janessa Edwards-McCracken so that Janessa Edwards-McCracken could avoid prosecution for dealing in methamphetamine, a Class A felony.”
A Tuesday Times Herald story stated: “The agreement charges Morgan 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, sexual activity with the female suspect — between Nov. 1, 2009, and Aug. 31, 2011.” But Goodridge emphasized in a phone call that the female, “T.J.,” referred to in the ghost employment charge is not the same female referred to in the original charges, Janessa Edwards-McCracken, and “T.J.” is not a suspect in any criminal activity.
Morgan appeared in person, with Goodridge, for the plea hearing Monday and was advised by Judge Carl Heldt that the judge will review the plea agreement and a pre-sentence report and either accept or reject the plea agreement. Morgan was advised of his rights and acknowledged that he understood and waived his rights.
The former chief deputy withdrew his not-guilty plea to the original charges and voluntarily entered a guilty plea to the ghost employment charge. According to the plea agreement, he may argue treatment as a Class A misdemeanor, and the court is free to impose any sentence allowable by law. If the judge accepts the plea agreement, the other charges will be dismissed.
“The defendant further states that he understands the penalties for each of the crimes set forth in the information or indictment and has had explained to his satisfaction, the maximum and minimum sentence ...,” according to the plea agreement.
If convicted of ghost employment under the plea agreement, Morgan could face six months to three years incarceration and up to a $10,000 fine. If treated as a Class A misdemeanor, incarceration could be 0-12 months with a possible $5,000 fine, according to Indiana Criminal Code. The original Class C felonies each carried a term of two to eight years incarceration and possible fine up to $10,000.
Sentencing was scheduled for 9 a.m. Nov. 20.