CANTON, SD—The principal of South O’Brien Elementary in Primghar is facing criminal charges in South Dakota for the alleged misappropriation of his mother’s money.

A grand jury indicted 53-year-old Michael Jay Morran of Primghar on Nov. 12 in Lincoln County District Court in Canton, SD, with the following charges:

  • Three Class 4 felony counts of theft by exploitation.
  • One Class 5 felony count of theft by exploitation.
  • One Class 6 felony count of theft by exploitation.

Morran had been entrusted with property belonging to Tracia Morren, his mother, but allegedly misappropriated several thousand dollars of her money numerous times between Dec. 28, 2015, and Oct. 3, 2017.

According to court documents, Morran “did, with intent to defraud, appropriate Tracia Morren’s property for a use or purpose not in the due and lawful execution of Tracia Morren’s trust.”

Under each of the three Class 4 felony counts, Morran allegedly misappropriated an amount of more than $5,000 but less than or equal to $100,000.

For the Class 5 felony count, he was accused of misappropriating an amount of more than $2,500 but less than or equal to $5,000.

Under the Class 6 felony, Morran allegedly misappropriated an amount of more than $1,000 but less than or equal to $2,500.

A warrant for Morran’s arrest was issued on Nov. 12. The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office took him into custody on Nov. 22.

Morran was released on Nov. 26 from the Lincoln County Jail in Canton on a $2,500 bond.

He is set to appear for an initial arraignment in Lincoln County District Court in Canton at 9 a.m. Monday, Dec. 9.

Neither Morran nor South O’Brien superintendent Dan Moore could be reached for comment.

Staff members at the elementary office in Primghar and the superintendent’s office in Paullina said the school district has no comment on the case.