Former St. Charles District Attorney Harry Morel Pleads Guilty to Obstruction of Justice
U.S. Attorney Kenneth A. Polite announced today HARRY J. MOREL, JR., age 73, pled guilty to obstruction of justice in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1512(d)(1).
According to court records, MOREL served as the elected prosecutor of St. Charles Parish, Louisiana from on or about January 1, 1979 until May 31, 2012. Thereafter, he became an Assistant District Attorney in the Office of the District Attorney for St. Charles Parish and remained in that position until January 11, 2013. MOREL resided in, and his office was located in, St. Charles Parish, Louisiana, in the Eastern District of Louisiana.
As District Attorney and as an Assistant District Attorney for St. Charles Parish, MOREL was responsible for prosecuting individuals charged with criminal and traffic offenses against the State of Louisiana. As the District Attorney, MOREL had the authority and discretion to, among other things, make bail recommendations, make sentence recommendations and bring dismiss, forego or reduce charges.
MOREL freely admitted that he is guilty of Obstruction of Justice in that he harassed Individual "A" and attempted to prevent and dissuade Individual "A" from attending or testifying in an official proceeding, i.e., the federal grand jury, by telling Individual "A" to "get rid of” and to "destroy" the evidence of a meeting they had and to deny the inappropriate nature of the meeting to law enforcement officials. Furthermore, based on Individual "A"'s representations, MOREL believed there would be a federal Grand Jury investigation, and as a result asked her to conceal information that would have likely led to her being a witness before that body.
MOREL also admitted that on other occasions, between 2007 and 2009, he solicited sex from other individuals who were defendants or who had family members who were defendants in the St. Charles Parish criminal justice system. While soliciting sex from these individuals, MOREL likewise used the office of the District Attorney to provide benefits to these other individuals, including falsifying community service reports.
MOREL faces a maximum term of imprisonment of three years, a fine of $250,000 and one year of supervised release following any term of imprisonment. Under the terms of his Rule 11(c)(1)(B) plea agreement, MOREL acknowledges that the Government will recommend that the Court impose the maximum sentence of three years in prison. U.S. District Judge Kurt D. Engelhardt set sentencing for August 17, 2016.
U.S. Attorney Polite noted that the investigation has not implicated any other former or current employees of the St. Charles Parish District Attorney's Office.
U.S. Attorney Polite praised the work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, particularly Special Agent Michael Zummer, and the St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office in investigating this matter. Assistant U.S. Attorneys James Baehr and Mark Miller are in charge of the prosecution.