Delbert Morgan, 58, was paid to do little, if any work, between March 2004 and March 2008 for the county's tax collections department, prosecutors say. He's charged with multiple counts of felony theft of more than $60,000.
Morgan's trial was expected to begin Monday, but Knox County Criminal Court Judge Judge Steven Sword postponed jury selection until Tuesday morning to continue hearing motions that started Thursday.
Defense attorneys filed one motion to dismiss the case, saying key documents that would prove their client's innocence have gone missing over the years. The defense also asked the judge not to allow a fraud investigator to serve as an expert witness.
The trial is expected to focus on the time Morgan spent away from the office and the payments he received from his former supervisor of four years, Mike Lowe.
Lowe and another supposed ghost employee, Ray Mubarak, are expected to go on trial later this year.
Morgan served as a field auditor and Mubarak worked as an office clerk and then a field auditor. They both abruptly resigned on March 8, 2008, about the same time Fred Sisk, Lowe's successor, took over.
At the time, they earned $37,500 annually.
The theft charges are Class B felonies and each carries $25,000 in fines and are punishable by eight to 12 years in prison.
Prosecutors have set aside two weeks for Morgan's trial. Mubarak's is scheduled for Nov. 5 and then Lowe will go to trial on Dec. 1.
Court records say that during the time Morgan "purportedly worked for the Trustee's Office," he was actually working at his other businesses – Celebrity Choppers, Morgan Development, MDN, National Kennel Club and Real Estate Market, Inc.
He also spent part of the time "at medical appointments or on trips outside of Knox County," records state.
Employment records for Morgan show that he received almost $200,000 in salary, overtime and benefits between spring 2004 and spring 2008.
His cell phone records, which are a part of his legal file, comprise thousands of pages and often place him outside of the county during regular business hours.