Ohio Woman Admits Creating Fictitious Evidence To Obstruct A Federal Investigation
NEWARK, N.J. - An Ohio woman who claimed she investigates labor unions on behalf of attorneys admitted her role today in impeding a federal investigation, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Debbie Shank Morgan, 57, of Euclid, Ohio, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Kevin McNulty in Newark federal court to obstruction of justice.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
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, a law enforcement agency that investigates allegations related to federal crimes, such as bribery and theft, involving labor unions, union officers, and employee benefit plans.
Morgan said 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 said she had information that a former union officer and his father, both from an international labor union, had committed serious violations of federal law. She alleged they had embezzled $30 million from a political action committee (PAC) associated with the union.
Morgan provided federal agents with e-mails and other documents and items as evidence. She had, in fact, falsified, altered and created these items. For example, Morgan provided federal agents with e-mails she claimed were evidence in support of her allegations. Federal agents then obtained a court-authorized search warrant and seized the actual e-mails transmitted through the service provider. The e-mails from the search warrant demonstrated that she had altered and fabricated the e-mails before giving them to federal agents. In addition, in September 2012, she claimed that an unknown individual had fired a weapon at her car while she was driving it in Ohio. Morgan then provided federal agents with two digital recordings, allegedly with the wife of the alleged shooter. In these consensual recordings, the wife admitted that her husband had fired a weapon at Morgan’s car. The recordings, however, were fabricated and created by Morgan and an unknown third party.
The obstruction count to which Morgan pleaded guilty carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 6, 2014.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Inspector General, Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations, New York Region, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Cheryl Garcia, for the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony Moscato of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Newark.
Defense counsel: Jack A. Meyerson Esq., Philadelphia