Jackson official charged in graft case


Published: Saturday, January 1, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, December 31, 2004 at 10:26 p.m.
MARIANNA - Jackson County's roads and bridges overseer received kickbacks from a company for buying department supplies at inflated prices, prosecutors said.
William Edward Morris, 37, was charged with one count of unlawful compensation or reward for official behavior, a second-degree felony. He faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted.
Morris surrendered Thursday and was then released pending a Monday court appearance, said Capt. Robbie Wester of the Jackson County sheriff's office.
The investigation was launched after a tip in November that Morris was using public funds to purchase supplies for the Panhandle county from a South Florida company at prices six times the cost of other suppliers.
Authorities deemed Morris had received cash from the supply company because of the expensive purchases, the sheriff's office said.
Wester identified the company as Safety and Health Municipal Supply of Davie. He said it was not known if the company violated state laws.
No company by that name is listed in the telephone directory and no Internet site for it was found.
Morris had allegedly been receiving cash for department purchases from the business since the spring. Items such as 55-gallon drums of tar remover and weed killer were bought from the company, Wester said.
Wester could not yet provide a total amount of money that Morris allegedly received as the investigation was continuing.
No one was answering the telephones at Morris' home or office Friday.
But a woman who answered the phone at his home Thursday told the The News Herald that "(Morris) did not do this." She told the newspaper he was unavailable for comment.
Jackson County Administrator Ted Lakey would also not comment on the charges or Morris' employment status with the county because the investigation continues.
Morris has worked for Jackson County for about 18 months, Lakey said.
--- Information from: The News Herald, http:// WWW.NEWSHERALD.COM

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