Monday night Newschannel 7 broke the story that suspended Okaloosa County Sheriff Charlie Morris would be pleading guilty today to Federal Fraud, Money Laundering and Wire Fraud charges.
Tuesday it happened.
Morris changed his "not guilty" plea to "guilty" in a Pensacola courtroom, during an appearance that was originally scheduled as a re-arraignment.
Newschannel 7's Alex Denis joins us from Pensacola with the details of the plea agreement.
A solemn looking Charlie Morris remained silent as he entered the Federal Courthouse in Pensacola Tuesday morning.
Inside he told Federal Judge Lacey Collier, he was in fact guilty of all of the federal crimes detailed in last month's indictment.
Morris and his former Director of Finance Terry Adams were charged with six counts including Fraud, Conspiracy to Commit Money Laundering, and Wire Fraud.
The indictment details 26-different instances in which Morris and Adams allegedly gave Sheriff's Office employees bonuses, requiring them to kick-back part, or all, of the money to him.
Morris’ agreement with the U.S. Attorney's Office required him to give testimony in all necessary proceedings related to the kick-back scheme.
In return for his cooperation, the U.S. Attorney may suggest a lesser sentence.
As it stands now, Morris could receive up to 85 years in prison and nearly $ 1.5 million in fines and restitution.
Judge Collier released Morris until he's sentenced.
Before leaving the courtroom Morris told Judge Collier, "I apologize to you and this court for being here today".
Morris will appear in court again on July 28th for his sentencing. In Pensacola, Alex Denis, Newschannel 7.
Morris must surrender all forfeitable assets prior to his sentencing.
Morris' co-defendant Terry Adams has a change of plea hearing set for this Friday, so it appears she has worked-out a similar plea agreement with the Feds.
So far no one else has been charged in the kick-back scheme. We'll continue to follow this case.