(11/05/2002)
The former President of the State Board of Education has plead guilty to embezzling funds from the Clay County Bank, where he served as bank president. J. D. Morris, 67, of Clay, is facing a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and a one million-dollar fine.

Morris appeared in federal court yesterday in Charleston, and admitted to taking in excess of $100,000 from the bank.

Court reporters said Morris agreed to plead guilty to a single count of embezzlement to avoid other charges. He has cooperated with authorities throughout the investigation and has re-paid the bank $171,000, although earlier reports said an audit revealed he took $137,000.

It is likely Morris will receive a greatly reduced sentence, which is scheduled to be given on February 3, 2003.

Morris resigned his position at the Clay County Bank earlier this year, and then resigned from the State Board of Education after the charges came to light. He had been associated with the bank for 50 years.

His attorney said Morris wants to bring the incident to close as soon as possible.


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