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Man pleads guilty to concealing cash

Published Aug. 28, 2005

Nearly 10 years after he was indicted, a former Oldsmar man this week pleaded guilty to federal charges of hiding $421,000 in cash from the government during bankruptcy proceedings in the early 1990s.

Arnold F. Morris, 63, fled the country and had lived in Honduras since 1992, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. But that country expelled him earlier this year, and he has since been in custody in Tampa.

As a result of an investigation by the FBI and IRS, a federal grand jury indicted Morris, his son Scott and a company, Fibre-Tech of Largo, owned by his sons in August 1994. The 26-count indictment charged the father, son and company with defrauding creditors in a 1992 bankruptcy proceeding filed on behalf of Arnold Morris.

At the time of the indictment, an attorney representing the company and Scott Morris said Arnold Morris was not connected with the company and filed for personal bankruptcy in April 1992.

The indictment charged that Arthur Morris, with the help of his son Scott, opened several bank accounts in the fictitious name of Charles Glass. Those were used to hide cash from the bankruptcy court and creditors, according to prosecutors.

The two men and the company were charged with conspiracy to commit bankruptcy fraud, bankruptcy fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, money laundering, making false statements under oath during a bankruptcy case and filing false paperwork with the bankruptcy court.

When questioned under oath during the bankruptcy proceedings, Arnold Morris lied about the existence of the accounts, prosecutors say. A total of $421,000 was deposited into the accounts and was wired to bank accounts in Honduras controlled by Arnold Morris.

Scott Morris and Fibre-Tech pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bankruptcy fraud and one count of money-laundering in 1996. Scott Morris has since completed a 27-month prison term. The company, which manufactures fiberglass-reinforced products used in swimming pools, paid a $90,000 fine and forfeited $300,000. At the time of Scott Morris' sentencing, he and Fibre-Tech had already paid more than $650,000 to creditors in a separate civil proceeding.

Federal court dockets do not indicate whether a sentencing date has been set or what potential sentence Arnold Morris faces. Neither a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Tampa nor a company representative for Fibre-Tech could be reached for comment Friday.

_ Times researcher Cathy Wos contributed to this report.