Ti highway chief to resign

"To other community groups that I have been working with I regret that I won't be there in my official capacity to help with the completion of the various projects that we have been working on, but encourage you to contact me if there is anything I can do to help. Then there are a couple of lifelong friends that stood ever so close to this situation, believe me you won't be forgotten. So with this all said, I hereby resign my position as Ticonderoga highway superintendent effective immediately."

Morrison offered no further comment.

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

Auditors were surprised to find large chemical purchases at extremely high prices. 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.

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

According to State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, Morrison purchased $100,000 in over-priced supplies that for the most part were not used by the town, and accepted $2,000 in gift cards, according to a state audit released last week.

The audit also found the superintendent purchased $18,000 worth of sand from his uncle, without seeking competitive bids for this material.

DiNapoli said these incidents might have been avoided if the town board properly oversaw the department.

"When someone is elected to public office, they have an obligation to promote the public good, and not use the office for private gain," DiNapoli said. "But the fact is local governments need to have a system in place to be sure public officials are doing the right thing. Now more than ever, local governments should be vigilant. Town boards should be protecting every taxpayer dime. That didn't happen in Ticonderoga."

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