Today's Paper Newsletters LEARNS Guide Asa Hutchinson 2024 Today's Photos Public Notices Crime Distribution Locations Obits Puzzles Digital FAQ Razorback Sports

2nd Urban Renewal suspect posts bail

by I.C. Murrell | June 6, 2023 at 3:10 a.m.
Rodrick Morris

A second suspect in the case of theft from the Pine Bluff Urban Renewal Agency reported to the Jefferson County jail and was released on bail just minutes later Sunday.

Rodrick Morris, 43, of Houston, Texas, is accused of submitting 46 invoices to the Pine Bluff Urban Renewal Agency totaling approximately $667,384 from May 2019 to August 2021, under the name RM Group LLC -- an alleged asbestos abatement company -- when the company did no work for the agency.

Morris was charged with 46 counts of Class C forgery and 38 counts of theft of property: Seven Class B, 29 Class C and two Class D. He was booked into the Dub Brassell Detention Center at 6:46 p.m. Sunday and released on $250,000 secured bond just five minutes later.

Maurice Taggart, 43, who served as executive director of the Pine Bluff Urban Renewal Agency at the time of the alleged offenses, was booked and released from the county jail Thursday on the same charges -- as well as one count of abuse of office. Taggart's bond was set at $150,000.

Taggart and Morris were classmates at Pine Bluff High School, graduating in 1998, according to previous reports. Both were charged Thursday.

The invoices Morris allegedly sent to the Pine Bluff Urban Renewal Agency were made to the attention of Taggart, according to an affidavit filed in Jefferson County Circuit Court.

Morris was identified as the sole owner of RM Group LLC in documents from Wells Fargo Bank, according to an investigation by 11th District West Prosecuting Attorney Kyle Hunter and Arkansas State Police, as noted in the affidavit.

Mike McNeill, a special agent who signed the affidavit, reported that Morris filled out a "Business Account Application" on Dec. 12, 2019, at a Wells Fargo branch in Pleasanton, south of San Antonio.

The application shows that Morris described his alleged business as "trucking whole grain," and part of the "transportation and warehousing" industry, McNeill wrote.

McNeill added that documents from Wells Fargo and the Arkansas Legislative Audit Committee show, of the theft of property charges:

seven were made to RM Group LLC over the $25,000 threshold

29 were made to the alleged company over the $5,000 threshold

and 2 were made to the alleged company under the $5,000 threshold.

Ron Allen, an environmental program coordinator for the asbestos section of the Arkansas Department of Energy and Environment's Division of Environmental Quality, was given all invoices that had been turned into the Pine Bluff Urban Renewal Agency during the investigation, according to McNeill.

Allen reportedly revealed the department had no record of RM Group LLC performing any asbestos abatement or demolition work on any properties listed on the invoices.

"It should also be noted that (ADEQ) has no record on file of "RM Group LLC" having the necessary license to conduct asbestos abatement work in Arkansas," McNeill wrote, referring to the formerly named Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality.

In Arkansas, a Class B felony can result in five to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000. A Class C felony can lead to a sentence of three to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. And a Class D felony can be punishable by up to six years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

A lawyer for Morris was not listed.

Print Headline: 2nd Urban Renewal suspect posts bail


Sponsor Content