Former St. Charles D.A. faces federal charge

Former St. Charles D.A. faces federal charge

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - After years of investigation, the U.S. attorney on Tuesday charged the former district attorney of St Charles parish with obstruction of justice after the feds say he harassed and intimidated a potential witness against him for nearly a year.

He was a political powerhouse in St Charles Parish for 33 years. Now Harry Morel is expected to enter a guilty plea on a federal charge next week.

Two years ago, FOX 8 and others reported that former D.A.Harry Morel was under federal investigation for allegedly giving lenient deals in exchange for sexual favors. The feds have charged him with a single count of obstruction of justice.

"He has agreed to enter a plea to this bill of information, which resolves the matter," said Morel attorney Ralph Capitelli.

Normally a bill of information means a defendant is cooperating with other investigations, but that may not be the case this time around. The charge stems from Morel's alleged activities in his final months in office and his initial months as an assistant D.A. The bill of information alleges that between January and November of 2012, Morel repeatedly harassed an individual who had potentially damaging evidence against him. Court documents allege that Morel eventually dissuaded that person from testifying before a federal grand jury that was looking into Morel.

"The most you can get for this is three years in jail. This is the end of a long investigation. This is obviously a compromise to wrap it up," said FOX 8 legal analyst Joseph Raspanti.

Morel's attorney says his client is prepared to confess.

"It is our position Harry Morel will plead guilty to that bill of information, the dates will be set by the court," Capitelli said.

The bill was filed under seal Tuesday afternoon, then unsealed minutes later at the request of prosecutors, who declined comment.

In addition to facing a possible three years in prison, Morel may also lose his law license. He is expected to enter a guilty plea before federal judge Kurt Engelhart on Monday afternoon.

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