The Massachusetts agency that recently hired Rachel Morgan, the former executive director of the Grayson Crisis Center, terminated her after an emergency board meeting Thursday.
Morgan, 35, was arrested Wednesday morning in Salem, Massachusetts, on a fugitive from justice charge after a warrant for her arrest was issued Tuesday in Sherman. Authorities alleged that Morgan stole about $9,000 from the Crisis Center from March 2014 to October 2016.
Morgan resigned from the executive director role for the Crisis Center on Nov. 3, and in mid-December, Healing Abuse, Working for Change — a domestic violence agency based in Salem — announced it hired Morgan to become its executive director. Morgan began working for the agency in early January, but she had not assumed any executive director duties, according to the agency.
In a news release from HAWC issued Friday, the agency’s board of directors said they voted to fire Morgan after the allegation against her came to light. Interim Executive Director Paula Herrington was named to take on the position in the agency full time.
“The allegation was devastating news for HAWC,” HAWC Board President Linda Puopolo said in the release. “In spite of extensive due diligence in the hiring process, nothing was disclosed that would have raised any concerns of this nature. My fellow board members and I are shocked and saddened by this information.”
Salem Police officers and detectives and a Massachusetts State Police trooper arrested Morgan at her place of employment on Congress Street in Salem shortly after 10 a.m. Wednesday. The report on the incident from Salem Police indicates that a Sherman Police detective contacted a Salem detective a week prior to the arrest informing the department of the ongoing investigation on Morgan.
Sherman Police began an investigation on Morgan in December, and police found evidence that Morgan kept travel reimbursement funds that should have been directed back to the Crisis Center, according to the arrest warrant affidavit. Police also discovered that Morgan allegedly filed fictitious paperwork for travel she did not actually take and received reimbursements for it.
The morning after the theft of property warrant was issued, police arrived to the office and made contact with Morgan. They advised her of the Sherman warrant, and she was taken into custody. The police report notes that Morgan was cooperative during booking, and the process was completed without incident.
The Salem News reported that Morgan pleaded not guilty Wednesday to the fugitive from justice charge, and the judge ordered her held without bail. A status hearing for Morgan was scheduled for Feb. 6, according to The Salem News.
Leslie Salter, the Massachusetts attorney representing Morgan, said via email that her client had the right to fight extradition, but she waived that right. She said Texas authorities anticipated that it would take about two weeks for Morgan to be returned to Texas.
Salem Police Capt. Conrad Proniewski said Friday the Massachusetts hearing scheduled for next month is to make sure Texas authorities picked up Morgan and took her to Texas.
“It’s more of a house keeping type of thing — that if they didn’t come and get her, then she’s entitled to be bailed or be released,” Proniewski said.
Proniewski said it’s up to Texas authorities as to when they decide to go and for how they decide to transport her to Sherman. He said the hearing date is kind of like the deadline that Texas authorities need to meet in order to bring Morgan to Sherman.
“They’re going to make the arrangements for however they transport — whether it’s by plane, by bus, by car — that’s up to them to come get her and take her back,” Proniewski said.
Grayson County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Sarah Bigham said her office will be making the arrangements, and it has different ways of transporting Morgan to Sherman. GCSO has a prisoner transport vehicle that could be used, or sometimes assistance from other agencies, like the U.S. Marshals, is used. Or the agency might send a deputy to go and get her, Bigham said.
“It just depends on the situation and a lot of different other things as to what method we use,” Bigham said. “I would kind of like to not go into detail as to what those are because of officer safety, but we will get her back here to go to court here.”
Bigham said for typical out-of-state situations like this, they normally have 30 days to arrange transport for the person. She said the Feb. 6 hearing doesn’t necessarily mean Morgan will be in Sherman by that date, but rather it means that arrangements must be made with that county by that date. The transport office will handle the arrangements and determine the best course of actions for getting Morgan back to Sherman, she said.
“We don’t even know when — how they’re getting back,” Bigham said. “The person will just be back here at our facility.”