The Woodward News

Local News

February 2, 2012

Former Woodward detective faces 13 felony counts

Woodward, Okla. — A former Woodward Police detective was charged Thursday with 13 felony counts related to accusations that he stole methamphetamine from the police department's evidence room.

Michael Albert Morton, 55, has been charged with 4 felony counts of conspiracy to commit theft of methamphetamine, 5 counts of theft of methamphetamine, and 4 counts of distribution of methamphetamine.

Morton appeared in court Thursday afternoon for his initial appearance in the case.  Associate District Judge Don Work scheduled a preliminary hearing for July 24 and set a $20,000 personal recognizance bond that had already been worked out by Morton's attorney Mike Mitchel and the prosecutor.

After the brief hearing, Mitchel took quickly took Morton to be processed and released on that bond.

According to an affidavit filed with the charges, Morton told investigators he used his position as a police detective to steal methamphetamine from evidence to give to his then wife Christine Sue Morton.  The couple has since divorced in June 2010 and she now goes by the name Christine England.

The affidavit also references an admission that Morton made in open court as part of a hearing for an unrelated federal case in July 2010.

"During that hearing, while under oath, Michael Morton admitted that he had given Christine Morton methamphetamine that he had removed from the evidence room of the Woodward Police Department.  Michael Morton also admitted under oath that he knew Christine Morton had broken into the evidence room at the Woodward Police Department to steal methamphetamine.  That he had discussed with Christine Morton the story to tell investigators that she had broke into the evidence room to obtain alcohol," the affidavit states.

According to the affidavit, Morton met with a Woodward County DA's Investigator Steve Tanio following the hearing and allegedly told Tanio that "on 'several' different occasions he had stole methamphetamine from the Woodward PD evidence room and gave it to Christine Morton ... so that Christine Morton would not be 'looking for it on the street, where it was dangerous.'"

Morton also allegedly told Tanio "he 'mainly' got the methamphetamine from cases set for destruction," the affidavit states.

The affidavit mentions 8 separate occasions between May 2009 and March 2010 when Morton allegedly obtained methamphetamine for his wife.

The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI) began a lengthy inventory of the Woodward Police Department's evidence room shortly after Morton's courtroom admission in July 2010.

"This inventory determined that there were approximately sixty-seven (67) items of evidence that contained methamphetamine and/or illegal substances that had been tampered and which appeared to have methamphetamine missing," the affidavit states.

Through further investigation and testing it was determined that methamphetamine had been removed "from most of the tampered evidence envelopes in question," the affidavit states.  It was also determined "that the majority of the cases where drugs were taken, the drugs had been slated for destruction" as Morton had allegedly claimed, the affidavit states.

Morton, who was a detective with the Woodward Police since March 2002, resigned from the police department on July 12, 2010.

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