Newschannel 7’s Alex Denis says, "Former Sheriff Charlie Morris faced a maximum sentence of 85 years in federal prison for his crimes. In court Tuesday morning he was sentenced to nearly six years behind bars."
"I accept the sentence imposed upon me today and I make no excuses for my behavior whatsoever. I just wanted to say I'm sorry to the people of Okaloosa County," says former sheriff Charlie Morris.
Standing on the Federal Court House steps with tears in his eyes, Charlie Morris accepted responsibility for his creation of a kick-back scheme that stole taxpayer's money and apologized for hurting the people of Okaloosa County.
In a packed courtroom Tuesday morning judge Lacey Collier listened to a similar apology then had some comments of his own.
Before handing out Morris' sentence judge Collier said Morris had tarnished the badge of every law enforcement officer in the area and for that he must bear the responsibility.
Morris was sentenced to 5 years and 11 months behind bars- the maximum sentence of the recommend guideline noted in the sentencing report.
"Mr. Morris is satisfied. It's a fair sentence," says Morris’ attorney Joe Hammons.
Morris was also ordered to pay $212,000 in restitution to the Okaloosa County Board of County Commissioners and forfeit $194,000 in property.
Prosecutor Randy Hensel says he is happy with Morris' punishment and hopes it helps re-build the public's faith in the Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office.
"I hope this case and the prosecution helps restore in the citizens of Okaloosa county respect and faith in law enforcement and I hope this is not a reflection by the public on the good work of the road deputies and the men and women of the Okaloosa County Sheriff's Department," says Hensel.
Before leaving the courtroom, Morris' wife Barbara, his pastor and other friends and family members sat quietly as Morris read a written statement thanking the federal agents who investigated the case saying:
"There is no doubt that they saved me from a fast track to self destruction. I am convinced that when I come out on the other side of this tragedy, I will be a better man, husband, son, brother, father, grandfather and friend to everyone with whom I am blessed to share what remains of my life."
In the mean time Morris says he takes full responsibility for his actions.
"I want to apologize and say I'm sorry to the good people of Okaloosa County and to the former employees of the Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office. I made some abomination decisions in which I take full responsibility."
The court has order Morris to turn himself in September 28th to begin serving his sentence.
Morris' assistant Teresa Adams will be sentenced August 25th.