Former St. Charles D.A. pleads not guilty to obstruction

Former St. Charles D.A. pleads not guilty to obstruction

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - He served as district attorney of St. Charles Parish for 33 years, but on Monday afternoon Harry Morel walked into federal court as a defendant.

The U.S. attorney said Morel intimidated a witness for most of 2012 to prevent the individual from testifying against Morel before a grand jury\.

Morel said very little as he walked into court as a defendant facing a possible three years in prison on an obstruction of justice charge. In 2012 in the midst of a long-running federal investigation, a bill of information accuses Morel of intimidating a witness who was to appear before a grand jury investigating him. The intimidation allegedly took place over an 11-month span. The bill of information said the victim had photos to be used against Morel in an investigation into sexual favors in exchange for lenient deals.

Morel  pleaded not guilty. Such a charge is usually a sign that a witness is cooperating or could testify in other cases. But Morel's attorney said that's not the case here.

"There's no aspect of cooperation at all," said  attorney Ralph Capitelli.

A federal magistrate set a $50,000 for Morel. His travel is also restricted to the U.S.

Morel will return to court next week to change his not guilty plea to a guilty plea before a federal judge.

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