Former NOPD Sergeant Charged with Wire Fraud for Double Billing and Billing for Time Not Worked
According to the charging document, MORRELL was a NOPD Sergeant with NOPD’s Special Operations Division and served both on a Tactical Platoon and the Bomb Disposal Unit. He supplemented his NOPD income with security-oriented secondary employment (i.e., “police details”) while off-duty, including the New Orleans Fair Grounds Neighborhood Patrol (“Fair Grounds Patrol”). The Fair Grounds Patrol was created by city ordinance to supplement and enhance police service around the New Orleans Fair Grounds Racecourse, in New Orleans. The Fair Grounds Patrol consisted of two patrol cars operating 24 hours per day, 7 days a week, with one off-duty NOPD officer per car. MORRELL signed annual certifications attesting to his understanding of NOPD policies, including, secondary employment, and acknowledging that he would “actively monitor my hours.”
Notwithstanding these annual certifications, on numerous occasions between January 2017 and November 30, 2021, MORRELL submitted and certified timecards to NOPD and time sheets to the Fair Grounds Patrol falsely claiming to have been on duty (for NOPD) and on detail (for the Fair Grounds Patrol) when, in actuality, MORRELL was not present for duty. Often, MORRELL was engaged in recreational race car driving in Avondale, Louisiana, and Austin, Texas, while claiming to be on duty and on detail. Additionally, MORRELL frequently “double billed” NOPD and the Fair Grounds Patrol by submitting time sheets to both entities reflecting that he was working for both entities simultaneously.
Further, MORRELL regularly certified and submitted timecards to NOPD and time sheets to other entities, reflecting that he provided police details not only for a significant number of consecutive days but also, in effect, for the vast majority of days each year. For example, MORRELL certified and submitted timecards and time sheets reflecting that he worked every day between March 26, 2017, and July 23, 2017, except one. MORRELL claimed to have worked between thirteen (13) and twenty and one-half (20.5) hours per day for more than thirty (30) of those days. Similarly, MORRELL certified and submitted timecards and time sheets in 2020, reflecting that he worked approximately 356 days out of the 365-day calendar year. MORRELL also reported—and was paid for—working a massive number of hours annually, including more than 4,600 hours in 2020 alone.
In Fall 2021, including on or about November 16, 2021, local New Orleans media outlets published and broadcast reports concerning MORRELL’s employment with NOPD and the Fair Grounds Patrol. On November 17, 2021, MORRELL submitted payroll adjustment forms for several dates between December 2017 and April 2021 seeking to correct “clerical errors” that misstated the hours he had been on duty for NOPD, to NOPD. On about November 30, 2021, MORRELL resigned from NOPD.
“While an indictment is merely a charge, not a full presentation of evidence, today’s indictment emphasizes this office’s dedication to ensuring the integrity and honesty of public officials and holding responsible those who betray that sacred public duty,” announced U.S. Attorney Evans. “Official misconduct erodes trust in public institutions and deprives local governments of precious resources. When the public official is a member of law enforcement, who has sworn to protect and serve its citizens and maintain the highest standards of the community, such behavior is even more egregious, especially in communities whose police departments are already enduring critical staffing shortages.”
For each count, MORRELL faces up to twenty (20) years in prison, up to three years of supervised release, up to a $250,000 fine, and a $100 mandatory special assessment fee.
U.S. Attorney Evans reiterated that an indictment is merely a charge and that the guilt of the defendant must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
U.S. Attorney Evans praised the work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in investigating this matter. Assistant United States Attorneys Jordan Ginsberg, Chief of the Public Integrity Unit, is in charge of the prosecution.
Shane M. Jones
Public Information Officer
United States Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Louisiana
United States Department of Justice
Updated January 11, 2024