YORK — Cooperation with federal authorities in two investigations has won former Union County clerk of court Brad Morris a reduced sentence.
Morris resigned as clerk of court in Octobert 2009 just as a State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) audit of his office was getting under way. In November of that year, Morris was arrested by SLED and charged with embezzlement of public funds and misconduct in office. He was accused of embezzling more than $200,000 in public funds for his personal use during the first 10 months of 2009.
On Sept. 2, 2011, Morris pleaded guilty before Judge Lee S. Alford of York to misconduct in public office and embezzlement of public funds. Alford sentenced Morris to 10 years in prison on each count, suspended upon eight years and five years probation with credit for the one day Morris spent in jail at the time of his arrest in November 2009. He also ordered Morris to make restitution of the $239,982.88 he admitted to embezzling, stating that if he did so his probation would be terminated.
A little over a year after he sentenced Morris, Alford issued an order reducing the sentence by five years.
Union County Clerk of Court Freddie Gault said Tuesday that on Sept. 13, Alford amended the original sentence from 10 years suspended upon eight years and five years probation to 10 years suspended upon three years and five years probation.
While his prison sentence has been reduced, Gault said Morris is still required to make restitution of the $239,982.88 as originally ordered.
Gault, who was notified of the amendment Friday, said he has contacted the S.C. Department of Corrections and informed them of the reduction in Morris’ sentence. He said the department will use that information to calculate the new date that Morris will be eligible for release.
Sixteenth Circuit Solicitor Kevin Brackett said Tuesday that the reduction in Morris’ sentence is the result of his cooperating with federal authorities in two investigations.
Brackett said Morris provided federal authorities with information during their investigation of former Union County supervisor Donnie Betenbaugh and agreed to testify against Betenbaugh had the case come to trial.
Betenbaugh, who resigned as supervisor in 2009, was indicted by federal authorities on 40 charges involving corruption and drug activity. He pleaded guilty to one count of extortion and was sentenced to five months in federal prison followed by five months in a halfway house, then three years supervised released. He was also required to make restitution and pay fines in an amount determined by the court and pay a special assessment fee of $100.
Brackett said Morris has also cooperated with federal authorities in their investigation into matters connected to Morris’ criminal activity. Since the investigation is ongoing, Brackett declined to give further details, but did say that Morris’ cooperation with federal authorities began before he pleaded guilty and is continuing.
Editor Charles Warner can be reached at 864-427-1234, ext. 14, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.