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Rogue Camden officer continues to collect disability pension [The Philadelphia Inquirer]

By Joseph A. Gambardello, The Philadelphia Inquirer
McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

Jan. 15--While taxpayers are on the hook for more than half the $3.5 million settlement for dozens of people who served time after being arrested by a group of rogue Camden police officers, a retired sergeant convicted in the case has been collecting a $69,000-a-year disability pension from the state.

Dan E. Morris, 49, was injured in a car crash in September 2008, and retired Jan. 1, 2010, before federal prosecutors charged him for his role in a campaign by narcotics officers under his command to plant drugs on suspects and steal money from dealers.

He pleaded guilty to conspiracy in August 2010, and in December was sentenced to an eight-month prison term and two years' supervised release, including four months' house arrest. He had faced a possible 10-year term and fine of $250,000.

All along Morris has been collecting a $5,756-a-month pension based on a salary of $103,623, according to state pension records.

William Quinn, a state Treasury Department spokesman, said the Police and Firemen's Retirement System Board of Trustees was scheduled to consider whether to reduce or withhold his pension at a meeting Feb. 11.

"The board typically weighs a wide range of factors in making a decision in this type of case, including the seriousness of the offense and the officer's prior service record, in making a decision," Quinn wrote in an e-mail.

Reached by phone, Morris, who has not yet started serving his sentence, said he had no comment.

The U.S. Attorney's Office, which prosecuted Morris, said it had no position on his pension.

"It is strictly a state matter," said Matt Reilly, a spokesman for the office, based in Newark.

John Williamson, president of the Camden Fraternal Order of Police lodge, also said the union would take no position.

Morris was on the force for 23 years and was known as the "Terminator" for his prodigious arrest record.

Because of his misconduct and that of three fellow officers who also were convicted, prosecutors had to drop charges or have convictions overturned for 200 people arrested by them.

Last week, Camden reached a $3.5 million settlement with 88 people who had served a combined 109 years in prison before their convictions were vacated. The city will pay $1.88 million, and its excess-insurance carrier will make up the difference.

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Morris cooperated with authorities in the trial of two of the officers, one of whom, Antonio Figueroa, was found guilty and sentenced to 10 years in prison. Two other former officers also pleaded guilty. Kevin Barry was sentenced to 20 months in October. Jason Stetser will learn his fate Thursday.

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Contact Joseph Gambardello at 856-779-3844 or jgambardello@phillynews.com.

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(c)2013 The Philadelphia Inquirer

Visit The Philadelphia Inquirer at www.philly.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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