Documents surface in Morrissey case
Jeremy M. Lazarus | 1/29/2015, 9:46 p.m.
Information has begun to surface that appears to bolster Delegate Joseph D. Morris- sey’s claim that the new felony charges against him “are absolutely false.”
Take the court document that the Henrico County grand jury has charged the scandal-tainted legislator with forging — the key element of the four counts
on which he is to be arraigned Monday, Feb. 9.
The Free Press has discovered that the allegedly forged document is actually part of a five-page exhibit in a lawsuit that was filed in Chester- field County Circuit Court six months before the delegate is alleged to have illegally created it and had his lawyers present it to a Henrico court.
The Free Press also has learned that Coleman D. Pride, the man whose assertions to authorities that his signature on the document was bogus led to the charges against Delegate Morrissey, actually mailed the original document on May 18, 2007 — more than seven years earlier — to the mother of his two daughters. The original document was shown by sources to the Free Press.
This new information seems to undermine the indictments against Delegate Morris- sey and the woman, Deidre L. Warren, that he is accused of conspiring with to create the document and falsely testify about it.
Delegate Morrissey and his attorneys declined to comment on the latest information. Sherri A. Thaxton, the attorney who filed the Chesterfield County lawsuit, also declined to comment.
So did William F. Neely, the special prosecutor who presented the evidence against Delegate Morrissey to the grand jury.
Henrico Police Detective
C.A. Kelly, whose investigation led to the new charges, said only that he was “interested” in the new information, but did not comment further.
Ms. Warren could not be reached for comment.
All of the new charges stem from the Dec. 12 sentencing hearing in which Delegate Morrissey was convicted of the misdemeanor of contributing to the delinquency of a minor after allegedly hav- ing a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old receptionist in his law office. The teen, Myrna Pride, is the daughter of Ms. Warren and Mr. Pride.
Delegate Morrissey was convicted after entering an Alford plea in which he maintained his innocence, but acknowledged
the prosecution had enough evidence to convict him.
As a result of Delegate Morrissey’s plea in that case, he has become the first legislator to serve from jail.
He was sentenced to six months, which was reduced to 90 days for good behavior, and is free during the day on work release from Henrico Jail – East in New Kent County. He wears an ankle monitor.
Both he and the now pregnant Ms. Pride, who will be 19 in March, continue to insist they did not have an illicit affair when she was underage. They allege that her father was involved in creating what they call fiction.
The document at issue in the latest charges was submitted to the Henrico court during Delegate Morrissey’s sentencing hearing.
According to an affidavit Detective Kelly submitted in seeking a search warrant for Delegate Morrissey’s law office, no copy of the allegedly bogus document could be found in the Chesterfield Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court where it was said to have been filed. Detective Kelly stated that Delegate Morrissey’s defense team submitted the papers as a court document during Delegate Morrissey’s sentencing hearing to back up Ms. Warren’s testimony.
She testified about the three-sentence document that spelled out the child support agreement she reached with Mr. Pride. The signed document states his agreement “to deposit $50 per week, per child” in savings accounts for his daughters, Myrna Pride and Christina Pride, of which he was granted joint legal custody.
Detective Kelly’s affidavit notes that Ms. Thaxton faxed the document that was introduced in court at the sentencing hearing. Detective Kelly apparently did not look in the Chesterfield Circuit Court file where the child support agreement document is included.
The Free Press obtained copies of the Chesterfield Circuit Court suit that Ms. Thaxton had filed on behalf of Ms. Warren seeking $14,000 in unpaid child support from Mr. Pride. The suit includes a copy of the child support agreement dated Aug. 29, 2006. The lawsuit was filed in Chesterfield Circuit Court on June 3, 2014, well before Delegate Morrissey’s sentencing hearing.
Along with forgery, the grand jury indicted Delegate Morrissey for perjury, asserting he knew the child support agreement document was not valid; of conspiring with Ms. Warren to forge the document; and for inducing Ms. Warren to commit perjury in regard to the support agreement.
The grand jury also charged Ms. Warren with perjury for testifying to the authenticity of the support agreement she knew was false; with assisting in the forgery of the support agreement; and with conspiring with Delegate Morrissey to forge the agreement.