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Former county planning-commission chairman faces additional charges

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, June 16, 2011 - The U.S. attorney's office has announced that an additional charge has been lodged against former St. Louis County Planning Commission chairman Douglas Morgan, who already stands accused of filing false financial statements to obtain $1.5 million in loans from a bank where he also sat on the board.

Morgan, 65, of Chesterfield, has doled out at least $60,000 in campaign contributions since 2002, with money going to Democratic and Republican candidates, as well as both state parties.

According to federal authorities, Morgan now also is accused of wire fraud involving North County Development, LLC, formerly known as Camco Development, LLC.

Explained the release: "North County Development was a partnership that proposed the development of a casino complex in north St. Louis County and applied for a Missouri gaming license for that casino development during 2010. The partnership held an option to purchase approximately 376.8 acres of land in Spanish Lake, north St. Louis County, and to develop the land into a casino project that included a casino, hotel, golf course, convention center, parking garage and restaurants."

"The additional charge relates to a scheme by Morgan to defraud a longtime friend and associate," who subsequently invested $1.5 million into the project. Morgan is accused of diverting the money for personal use, instead of using it for project-related expenses. The friend is not identified.

The charge also cites loans that Morgan collected, totaling $450,000, from four unidentified friends and associates.

The earlier bank-fraud charges contend that Morgan falsely obtained bank loans of at least $1.5 million from Commercial Bank beginning in 1999, through 2010.

"If convicted, the count of bank fraud carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and/or fines up to $1,000,000; wire fraud carries a maximum of 20 years in prison and/or fines up to $250,000,'' federal authorities said.

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.

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