The First District Court of Appeal on Tuesday upheld the convictions and sentences of Michael Coup, Sandra Norris and David Yacks for their role in former Okaloosa County Sheriff Charlie Morris’ bonus kickback scheme.
“I always felt the trial judge, Linda Nobles, conducted a fair and appropriate trial and that there were no errors,” State Attorney Bill Eddins said. “I am relieved, however, that the court has ruled in this manner.”
Morris gave out bonuses to employees and required them to return a portion for his personal use. Coup, Norris and Yacks returned a portion of their bonuses to Morris on several occasions. As Morris’ scheme grew, Coup — the Sheriff’s Office’s chief deputy — also received money from Morris originally kicked back to the sheriff, prosecutors said.
Norris was Morris’ finance director and Yacks was the assistant administrator of information technology.
Coup, Norris and Yacks were convicted of racketeering and grand theft on Oct. 19, 2010. Coup was also convicted of official misconduct. They were sentenced March 30, 2011, to four years in state prison and six years’ probation after their release.
They were free on bond while their appeals were pending.
It takes about 30 days for the appeals court ruling to become final, Eddins said. The defendants can file an appeal in that time, but Eddins does not believe they will.
The ruling was issued in three Per Curiam opinions — unsigned affirmations that do not give the court’s reasoning or discuss any issues raised by the defense, Eddins said.
Per Curiam opinions leave no basis for an appeal, he noted.
None of the attorneys for the defendants returned messages Tuesday seeking comment.
After the ruling becomes final, the state attorney’s office will ask Nobles to order the defendants to surrender and start serving their sentence. Nobles will decide when they must turn themselves in, Eddins said.
“It could be a very short amount of time,” Eddins said. “Normally, just a few days.”
Morris and Teresa Adams, his administrative director, pleaded guilty to federal charges of theft, fraud and money laundering in May 2009.
Morris is serving a 71-month prison sentence. Adams has completed a 36-month sentence.
They also pleaded no contest to state charges of racketeering and money laundering and were sentenced to 20 years’ probation last November.
Randall Holcombe, Morris’ assistant director of administrative services, was the last of seven defendants to face trial. He was convicted of racketeering and grand theft last October and was sentenced in January to four years in prison.
Holcombe has appealed his conviction.
Sabra Thornton, Morris’ chief of staff and alleged mistress, was convicted in January 2010 of five counts of grand theft and one count of theft. Her conviction was overturned on appeal in April 2011.
She was not charged in connection with the kickback scheme.
Contact Daily News Staff Writer Lauren Delgado at 850-315-4445 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @LaurenDnwfdn.