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Prisoner Ford's Corrupt Hand Lingers in Govt.

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  • gmd
    Anyone with a brain the size of a pea knows to have nothing to do with the corrupt Democrat Ford family. John Ford-backed law lets doctor practice By Marc
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 1, 2008
      Anyone with a brain the size of a pea knows to have nothing to do
      with the corrupt Democrat Ford family.

      John Ford-backed law lets doctor practice
      By Marc Perrusquia (Contact)
      Memphis Commercial Appeal
      Sunday, June 1, 2008

      Tennessee regulators wanted nothing to do with Dr. Roger Morgan.

      A psychologist raised in Frayser and trained in South America, Morgan
      had been rejected twice by the state's psychology licensing board
      because of his academic record.

      But Morgan found a powerful ally in then-state Sen. John Ford, who
      pushed through legislation that forced regulators to hand Morgan a
      license to practice, according to an examination by The Commercial

      That carefully tailored 1998 law has privately troubled psychology
      professionals for years yet remained unknown to the larger public.

      The newspaper uncovered the matter following Morgan's indictment last

      Federal prosecutors contend Morgan offered Ford money in 2005 for
      legislation that would have given psychologists power to prescribe
      drugs. Morgan is not charged with the alleged attempted bribery but
      with lying about it when approached by FBI agents who secretly
      recorded the conversation.

      Morgan, 54, has pleaded not guilty. He has not responded to requests
      for an interview. Ford, serving a federal prison term on corruption
      charges, also was not available.

      An examination of Morgan's past also found Arkansas regulators said
      in 1997 they had erred in granting him a license, again citing a
      dubious academic record.

      Despite that history, Morgan has been paid hundreds of thousands of
      dollars over the past five years for conducting psychological
      evaluations and treating defendants passing through the Shelby County
      Drug Court.

      "Quite a few psychologists remember when the legislature circumvented
      the Board of Examiners in Psychology and apparently allowed Dr.
      Morgan the title of psychologist,'' said Dr. John McCoy, past
      president of the Tennessee Psychological Association, of the 1998

      "Many psychologists consider the day the bill was approved as the
      darkest day in the history of psychology in Tennessee.''

      A trail of legislative documents and audio tapes in the state
      archives as well as papers from Morgan's licensing file tell how it

      Rejected by the licensing board a second time in late 1997, Morgan
      turned to Ford, who introduced a bill in the General Assembly to
      reverse the board.

      "Sometimes the board, they don't do right,'' Ford says on a tape from
      an April 1998 legislative committee meeting. Ford said he was helping
      an unnamed constituent who had passed a national psychology test with
      a score higher than Tennessee's standard yet still was getting jerked
      around by the board.

      "We have to make decisions in the best interests of the people,''
      Ford told colleagues, "and we're making it right here.''

      The board had faulted Morgan's academic credentials, citing master's
      and doctoral degrees in psychology from Villarreal University in
      Lima, Peru. (According to his resume, Morgan also got an M.D. in 2004
      from the International University of Health Sciences in St. Kitts,
      West Indies.) Board minutes show Morgan was rejected because his
      doctoral program hadn't been approved by World Education Services, a
      respected nonprofit specializing in foreign credential evaluation.

      Morgan, who was already licensed in Arkansas, argued he had obtained
      satisfactory evaluations from two psychology professionals as well as
      from Thomas Edison State College in New Jersey.

      Ford said his bill could help several people the board was "jerking
      around,'' yet it appeared to be aimed squarely at Morgan:

      It directed the board to grant a license to any applicant who had
      passed a national exam as stringent as Tennessee's and who held a
      license in another state -- specifically a license awarded between
      Jan. 1 and June 1, 1995.

      Records show Morgan received his Arkansas license on Jan. 20, 1995.

      However, his licensing file there shows that the chairman of the
      Arkansas board later said he had erred in licensing Morgan.

      Dr. Elliot M. Fielstein, chair of the Arkansas board in 1995, said in
      a December 1997 letter to Tennessee regulators that Morgan's training
      in Peru didn't add up.

      Fielstein wrote that Morgan's transcripts show he earned a master's
      and a doctoral degree over one year and nine months in Peru -- a feat
      that typically would take at least four years -- while simultaneously
      working most of that time in Memphis on an internship.

      "This timeline of events lacks credibility,'' Fielstein wrote. "The
      quality of the course work, thesis, or dissertation could not
      possibly match the educational standards inherent in the licensing

      All of this was news to Drug Court Judge Tim Dwyer, who has worked
      with Morgan for several years trying to reform addicts who land in
      the criminal justice system.

      Records show Morgan was paid $450,000 between 2003 and last year
      through a series of contracts requiring him to perform psychological
      assessments, drug and alcohol screens, outpatient treatment and other
      services to defendants in the Drug Court's DUI program.

      In recent months, Morgan has also headed another Drug Court
      contractor, the Alcohol & Chemical Abuse Rehab Center. Following his
      May 13 indictment, Morgan sent a letter on ACAR stationery
      disassociating himself from Drug Court.

      "When he did the service for us he did a real good job,'' Dwyer said.

      Records show county purchasing officials questioned in 2006 whether
      one of Morgan's contracts should have been competitively bid. Dwyer,
      who grew up with Morgan in Frayser, said he "didn't pull any
      strings'' for his friend but recalls that Morgan started as a
      volunteer and did such good work that he began getting paid when Drug
      Court won a crucial state grant.

      Dwyer said he knew Morgan and Ford were friends yet was surprised and
      disheartened by Morgan's indictment.

      A defense motion filed in Morgan's criminal case indicates the
      charges stem from Operation Tennessee Waltz, the undercover FBI sting
      that led to Ford's bribery conviction last year. Ford, 66, is serving
      51/2 years in a federal prison for taking $55,000 from undercover
      agents posing as corrupt businessmen.

      Morgan's lawyer, Leslie Ballin, said last week he's considering
      moving to suppress evidence from eavesdropping that may have
      improperly intercepted his client's interaction with Ford. "I've been
      told (the evidence) involves a wiretap,'' Ballin said.

      -- Marc Perrusquia: 529-2545


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