(WASHINGTON) - The Daviess County Council has tabled a request from the Daviess County Sheriff's Department to pay over $20,000 to Ron Morgan in back pay.
Jason Tiller of the Washington Times-Herald reported that Sheriff Jerry Harbstreit told the Council that Morgan is owed $1,000 in longevity pay, $10,219.20 in vacation pay and $9,298.41 in sick pay. He said the department didn't have the money for the backpay in its budget, but that the money could be taken from the overtime budget. Almost $25,000 is due to the overtime budget as a reimbursement from the Drug Enforcement Agency money.
"That money was there and that's the reason we took it out of that fund," said Harbstreit. "I thought it would be easier to do that than to use tax dollars. But that is the time he had left that we did not pay him for."
According to Harbstreit, Morgan was paid during his time off out of comp time that he had built up while employed by the sheriff's department. However, with pending charges against Morgan, some members of the council were not eager to pony up.
"This bothers me," Councilman Ken Solliday said. "I know he hasn't been found guilty of anything yet, but I think the embarrassment and disgrace that he's caused this county is worth a lot more than what we owe him. I'm not in favor of giving him a dime. That's just my opinion."
Council President Mike Sprinkle brought up that on Page 30 of the employee handbook it states that any employee caught in law breaking will be subject to unpaid leave.
However, Harbstreit said his attorney's advice was for the department to put him on administrative leave with pay and reiterated that he used comp time to pay him during his absence before Morgan resigned on Dec. 31.
Council member Jo Arthur said she thought the county's policy stated that an employee must leave in good standing to receive this kind of payment. Harbstreit said he was unable to find that in writing. County Attorney Grant Swartzentruber was asked for his opinion on the matter.
"There is a good standing provision in another section," said Swartzentruber. "It doesn't say anything specific about that in this case. You could apply that here though."
Solliday was adamant about doing what is legal, even if he didn't agree with it.
Arthur said the council didn't have enough information to make a good decision. The rest of the council agreed and decided to not take any action until it could look at the case and see what the options are legally.
On Oct. 28, Morgan was indicted by a grand jury on charges of bribery and assisting a criminal, both of which are class C felonies.
According to an Indiana State Police press release, the ISP received information that Morgan allegedly assisted a 29-year-old Washington woman who was suspected of manufacturing meth avoid arrest by tipping her off in exchange for sexual favors on several occasions between August 2005 and July 2009.
Morgan was placed on administrative leave on Sept. 7 and relieved of all command and police power pending completion of the investigation, before he resigned Dec. 31.
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