Morel faces charge of obstruction of justice, could get up to 3 years in jail
Following a lengthy investigation, former St. Charles Parish District Attorney Harry J. Morel Jr. faces a federal charge of obstruction of justice in connection with allegations that he traded sexual favors with women in return for lesser charges.
Morel agreed to the charge as part of a plea deal, which comes about four years after he left the DA’s office, a position he held more than 30 years.
On Tuesday, U.S. Attorney Kenneth Polite announced the unsealed bill of information charging Morel “with intentionally harassing an individual” by “hindering, delaying, preventing and dissuading” this person from attending and testifying in a federal grand jury proceeding investigating possible wrongdoing by Morel in his capacity as St. Charles Parish District Attorney and Assistant District Attorney.
According to the bill of information, the individual in question was charged and convicted of state criminal offenses and was subject to Morel’s authority in his capacity as district attorney. Morel is accused of instructing this person “to get rid of” and “destroy” photographic evidence. The photos allegedly show Morel met with the individual to discuss the unnamed person’s criminal charges.
According to court records, Morel asked the individual to deny the inappropriate nature of their meetings.
On Tuesday (April 5), Morel deferred comment to his attorney, Ralph Capitelli.If convicted, Morel faces a maximum jail sentence of three years, a $250,000 fine and one year of supervised release following any term of imprisonment.
Joel Chaisson II, who took over as district attorney in 2012, in a statement Tuesday thanked federal authorities for “taking the necessary steps to soon bring this sad chapter in the history of the St. Charles Parish District Attorney’s Office to a long-awaited conclusion.”
Chaisson added the charges against Morel “do not diminish or call into question in any way the outstanding and professional work being done by the many hard-working individuals who represent my office so well.”