Camilla pharmacist still awaits sentencing

ALBANY, Ga. -- Popular Mitchell County pharmacist J. Harris Morgan was tried and convicted in federal court Oct. 14-23, 2008. But more than a year and a half after a jury rendered its verdict, court records show that Morgan remains free, waiting on U.S. District Judge Louis Sands to make a determination on two motions related to the case filed during and after the trial.

Morgan was acquitted of a conspiracy count but found guilty on 69 other counts alleging health care fraud for reportedly bilking health care programs through fraudulent reimbursements.

Morgan's attorneys, Steven Sadow and Donald Samuel, filed a motion under Rule 29 of the Federal Rules for Criminal Procedure for a full acquittal after the government rested its portion of the case during trial. Sands deferred ruling on the motion and ordered the trial to continue.

Following his conviction, Morgan's attorneys filed a second motion under Rule 33 requesting a new trial.

But since those motions were requested, Sands has yet to make a formal ruling, opting instead to release Morgan with the same conditions of the bond that he posted when he was originally arrested. He was ordered to remain in the country and stay out of the pharmacy business.

"The court still has our Rule 29 motion for judgment of acquittal and Rule 33 motion for new trial under consideration. It is our understanding that no sentencing date will be set until and unless the court denies the pending motions," Sadow wrote in an e-mail to The Herald.

In January, acting U.S. Attorney Greg Peterman wrote a letter to Sands asking if any additional information was needed from the government on the motions and noted, "If the court believes that additional oral argument would be of benefit, the government requests that the same be scheduled at the court's convenience."

That letter is the last item filed in Morgan's case, and a sentencing hearing remains unscheduled, according to the clerks of the court.

Morgan was indicted for submitting $419,000 in fraudulent claims to Medicaid for the drug Synagis, which is commonly used to treat respiratory ailments in children.