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Last updated on Friday, January 20, 2012
(FAIRBANKS) - A special judge has been appointed to hear the criminal case against former Daviess County Chief Deputy Ron Morgan of Washington.
Daviess Superior Court Judge Dean A. Sobecki made a motion Nov. 9, to recue himself from the case due to a conflict of interest. All the area judges had a long-term working relationship with Morgan making it impossible to hear the case.
Sobecki said that when there's a potential conflict of interest that the Indiana Supreme Court appoints a judge. On Jan. 13, that court appointed Vanderburgh County Circuit Court Judge Carl A. Heldt to hear the case in Daviess Superior Court.
If Morgan's case goes to trial the jury could be selected from another county to avoid conflict of interest.
Morgan was indicted by a grand jury in October 2011 on charges of bribery and assisting a criminal, both Class C felonies. Vanderburgh County Special Prosecutor Stan Levco was assigned to present the state's case, which was investigated by Indiana State Police detectives.
ISP initiated the investigation in September 2011 following allegations of official misconduct by Morgan. The allegations surfaced when deputies served a search warrant at the home of Janessa Edwards-McCracken of Washington. Police believed she was making meth.
McCracken told police she was able to avoid arrest in the past because she'd been tipped off by Morgan. In exchange for the information McCracken preformed sexual favors for Morgan.
Morgan was placed on paid administrative leave Sept. 7 and relieved of all command and police powers pending completion of the ISP investigation. According to Sheriff Jerry Harbstreit, Morgan had comp time built up and was allowed to use that for the time Morgan was on leave.
Morgan turned himself in at the sheriff's department and was arrested following the grand jury indictment on Oct. 28. He was released later the same day on $7,500 bond.
Morgan retired from the department effective Dec. 31, 2011. Because Morgan requested his retirement before his case had a chance to be called before the sheriff's merit board, which votes on hiring, firing, discipline, retirement and other issues for the deputies' protection, he should be able to claim his retirement benefits.
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