RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A former Virginia state lawmaker who pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor in a sex scandal involving a teenager will no longer face felony charges in the case.
A circuit court judge on Wednesday dismissed four felony counts accusing ex-Virginia Del. Joseph D. Morrissey of fabricating a document purportedly showing that the teen's father had agreed to pay $50 a week into her college fund.
Morrissey had vouched for the document in court and persuaded the teenager's mother to attest to its authenticity.
In December, Morrissey pleaded guilty to contributing to the delinquency of a minor involving the 17-year-old girl. He was sentenced to six months in jail as part of the plea deal, and spent his nights locked up and his days attending House of Delegates sessions on work release during the legislative session earlier this year. He has since completed the work-release program.
The judge ruled that Morrissey's plea deal in December absolved him of related potential crimes, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported ( HYPERLINK "http://bit.ly/1IRmetf" ).
"It's a total vindication," Morrissey said.
The ex-lawmaker recently vacated his House seat to run for state Senate. The Democratic Party ruled Tuesday that he had not submitted enough valid signatures to qualify for the primary, a decision Morrissey has pledged to fight.
One of the most colorful characters in Virginia politics, Morrissey has a long history of courting controversy.
A 1991 courthouse fistfight with a defense attorney earned Morrissey, then Richmond's chief prosecutor, a five-day jail sentence.
He capitalized on the widely reported courthouse brawl to benefit his practice, placing ads on city buses that declared him a "fighter" for his clients. He also decorated his office with boxing gloves.
Morrissey went into private practice after losing his re-election bid in 1993 under the cloud of bribery and perjury charges. He was later acquitted of the charges.