Federal charges look likely for former Morgan County administrator

Dec 20 2010 - 11:55pm

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Garth Day
Garth Day

MORGAN -- Former Morgan County Council administrator Garth B. Day's second court appearance Monday may have been his last in Morgan.

"We're going federal with the case. The FBI has been in town continuing their own investigation," said Morgan County Attorney Jann Farris.

"The U.S. attorney's office called me saying they were interested in bringing federal charges against (Day)."

In the event that the federal government files charges against Day, Farris said he would likely relinquish the case to federal prosecutors.

"It would be in the best interest of county taxpayers to dismiss the state's case and piggyback off of the federal case," he said.

Farris said Day is more likely to get significant prison time in the federal system than in the state system, which suffers from overcrowded jails.

"I'm honestly worried (Day) would get no significant prison time in the state system," Farris said.

Day told Judge Michael DiReda on Monday that he waived his preliminary hearing.

Day's attorney, Brad Smith, said he needed time to prepare for a pretrial conference and potential federal charges.

Smith said it matters little to his client whether charges are brought by federal or state authorities.

"Mr. Day has cooperated and will continue to cooperate with authorities regarding this matter," Smith said in an e-mail. "The fact that the investigating or prosecuting agency may change does not alter his intention to take responsibility for his actions."

DiReda set Feb. 7 for Day's next court appearance in 2nd District Court, but Farris believes federal charges will be filed before then. He estimates the federal charges could be only 30 days away.

Farris also assumes federal prosecutors will refrain from filing a long list of counts such as the 43 originally charged against Day.

The county's criminal counts include theft, money laundering, communications fraud, forgery, failure to keep/pay public money and official misconduct. The second-degree felonies could carry a 15-year sentence and a $10,000 fine.

Farris said evidence so far reveals about $400,000 worth of fraudulent activity, including taking out loans in the county's name and forging council member signatures.

"Three or four federal charges have more of a bang than our 43," Farris said. "I think (Day) understands that the stakes are so much higher."

Although Farris plans to dismiss the case in favor of handing it over to the feds, he said he likely will still actively participate and cooperate in the ongoing litigation.

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