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Ti highway chief arrested

TICONDEROGA - Ticonderoga's highway superintendent has been arrested, charged with accepting illegal kick backs from a vendor.

Arthur "Pat" Morrison Sr. was charged with receiving reward for official misconduct, a Class E felony, and official misconduct, a Class A misdemeanor, Sept. 23.

He will be arraigned in Ticonderoga town court at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 7.

Morrison, age 46, is alleged to have accepted $2,000 in retail store gift cards from a vendor in exchange for purchasing large volumes of chemicals at above-market prices.

Ticonderoga Police Chief Mark Johns declined to name the vendor, citing an on-going investigation. It is not a local firm.

The six-week investigation started when a routine state audit of town records revealed unusual purchases at the highway department, Johns said.

Auditors were surprised to find large chemical purchases at extremely high prices, the police chief said. Their experience made them suspicious and they alerted Ticonderoga police.

Morrison took office as Ti highway superintendent Jan. 1, 2008. The questionable purchases began in March 2008, according to investigators, and continued until April 2009.

The chemicals purchased were cleaning and ice melting agents.

Police said Morrison was aware his actions were criminal.

"The essence of the charge is that he knowingly was involved," Johns said. "He is fully cooperating in the investigation."

Morrison had little to say.

"At this time I have been charged and I'm working closely in cooperation with the Ticonderoga police," he said.

The felony charge relates to the gift cards, while the misconduct charge relates to unnecessary purchases, Johns explained.

No further charges are expected to be filed against Morrison, he said.

The investigation was conducted by Ticonderoga Police Department, the Essex County District Attorney's office and the state Comptroller's Investigation Unit.

Ticonderoga Supervisor Bob Dedrick said he became aware of the charges the day Morrison was arrested.

Morrison is an independently-elected official and does not serve at the pleasure of the town board, so there seems little trustees can do about the situation, Dedrick said, although he has asked the town attorney to investigate.

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