Ohio Woman Charged With Making False Accusations And Fabricating Evidence
NEWARK, N.J. – An Ohio woman who claims she investigates labor unions on behalf of attorneys was arrested today and charged by Complaint with making false accusations against former officers of an international labor union, falsely claiming she was the victim of a shooting, and fabricating evidence to support her false allegations, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Debbie Shank Morgan, 54, of Euclid, Ohio, was arrested this morning and made her initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Madeline Cox Arleo in Newark federal court.
According to the Complaint:
In May 2012. Morgan contacted federal agents from the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General, Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations (“DOL-OIG”) in New Jersey. The DOL-OIG is a federal law enforcement agency that investigates allegations related to federal crimes, such as bribery and theft, committed by and against labor unions, union officers, and employee benefit plans, among others.
She claimed that she was a non-practicing lawyer who investigates crimes associated with labor unions, employee benefit plans, and other alleged violations of federal criminal and civil law. Morgan reported that she had information that a former union officer and his father from an international labor union had committed serious violations of federal law. Morgan alleged that the former union officer had admitted to her that the father had embezzled at least $30 million from a Political Action Committee (“PAC”) associated with the International.
In support of her allegations, Morgan claimed that she had a relationship with the former union officer, and he had sent her numerous incriminating text messages. Morgan “cut and pasted” these alleged text messages, which she claimed were communications between herself and the former union officer, into e-mails and sent them to a DOL-OIG agent in New Jersey.
Federal agents obtained information from the service provider of the phone number provided by Morgan. This information revealed that the phone number had not been in service and was associated with a “land line” or “hard line,” which cannot be used to transmit text messages.
In September 2012, Morgan claimed that an unknown individual had fired a weapon at her car in Ohio, but damaged only the mirror. A police officer found no damage or holes in the mirror’s housing.
Morgan is charged with two counts of making false statements (Counts One and Two), each punishable by a maximum of five years in prison and a statutory maximum fine of $250,000. Morgan is also charged with obstruction of justice (Count Three), punishable by a maximum prison term of 20 years and a statutory maximum fine of $250,000
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the Department of Labor-Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Robert Panella; and special agents of the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Inspector General Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations, Chicago Region, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge James Vanderberg, for their assistance in the investigation leading to today’s arrest.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony Moscato of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Organized Crime/Gangs Unit in Newark.
The charges and allegations contained in the Complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.