FBI seizes more records in Morel probe

Morel’s attorney says FBI on ‘fishing expedition’

The FBI has seized more records from the St. Charles Parish courthouse that appear to be connected to an ongoing investigation of former St. Charles Parish District Attorney Harry Morel.

Morel’s attorney, Ralph Capatelli, said he believes the FBI is on a fishing expedition and doesn’t have any concrete evidence of wrongdoing.

Morel was the St. Charles Parish district attorney for 33 years before retiring from the elected office in mid-2012. He then accepted a part-time position as an assistant district attorney, but resigned six months later after an FBI investigation was launched into allegations that he traded sexual favors for leniency in criminal matters.

Late last month, the FBI seized records dealing with child support enforcement actions taken by Morel’s office from June 1, 2002 through Morel’s last day as district attorney on May 31, 2012. In all, Clerk of Court Lance Marino’s office turned 458 records over to the FBI.

The subpoena states the records were to be used in a grand jury to be convened on Aug. 1. All records regarding grand juries are kept confidential and it is uncertain if a grand jury actually convened on that day and what the outcome may have been.

Out of the 458 records one stands out, that of Danelle Keim’s. Although Keim’s case, involving a child support request from ex-husband Darren McGovern, was not filed by the D.A.’s office until two months after Morel stepped down as district attorney, he was still serving in the office as an assistant district attorney at the time.

Last year, the FBI was said to be investigating whether the 27-year-old Keim was asked by her former boyfriend, convicted felon Errol Falcon Jr., to perform sexual acts with Morel in exchange for leniency. However, Keim was found dead last February due to a drug overdose. Her boyfriend at the time, Matthew Savoie, was convicted for distributing the drugs that led to Keim’s death

Without Keim as their lead witness, it appeared that the U.S. Attorneys’ Office had suffered a major setback in their investigation. But on May 9, Marino received a subpoena from the FBI instructing him to turn over all criminal felony records related to Falcon from Dec. 1, 2009 until May 1, 2014.

The latest subpoena in the investigation is the third served by the FBI.

The initial subpoena was issued in January 2013 and requested 1,200 records involving driving while intoxicated cases from Jan. 1, 2009 until May 31, 2012.

The two latest subpoenas have been filed under the leadership of U.S. Attorney Kenneth Polite, who took office on Sept. 20, 2013.

At a luncheon held in St. Charles Parish, Polite vowed to take a hard stance on public corruption. He mentioned that investigations that seemed to have gone dormant in the time between former U.S. Attorney Jim Letten stepping down on Dec. 11, 2012 and him assuming office – such as the Morel investigation – may be getting a second look.

“We are committed in our office, as we have been for sometime, to rooting out corruption in our state,” Polite said.

Capatelli, Morel’s attorney, said he does not understand why the FBI is still issuing subpoenas.

“Mike Zummer, the agent involved in this case, presented his entire investigation to the U.S. Attorneys’ Office over two years ago and it was declined,” he said.

Capatelli added that many of the files requested go back too far and would not be suitable for use in a criminal trial.

“Whatever he is looking for, he is looking back 10 years. The statute of limitations is five years,” Capatelli said.“He is going back with a subpoena 10 years, which is clearly indicative of some kind of fishing expedition.”


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