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Prosecutors want man to serve nearly 4 years in prison, repay $2 million stolen from PBS subsidiary

Federal prosecutors want a former Chelsea resident to spend nearly four years behind bars for stealing just over $2 million from a distribution arm of PBS, legal filings show.

The government Wednesday recommended a 46-month prison term for Christopher C. Morris, 49, when he’s sentenced Dec. 10 in US District Court in Boston. Morris, who was arrested in 2017 in Brazil, pleaded guilty in September to four counts of wire fraud.

Prosecutors are also seeking an order that Morris pay restitution in the amount of $2,057,874.60. His public defender didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

The government said in court papers that Morris “stole his millions from PBSd—the distribution subsidiary of the Public Broadcasting Service and the WGBH Educational Foundation—on a daily or weekly basis over four years.”


Morris had worked for the distributor in various accounting positions during the life of the scheme, records show.

“He also abused the trust and confidence that PBSd placed in him, especially as an employee who had worked his way up through the accounting ranks,” the feds wrote in their sentencing memorandum.

An indictment filed in the case said Morris “spent the proceeds of the scheme on a lavish lifestyle that included, among other expenses, year-long apartment rentals in New York City’s Greenwich Village and Tribeca neighborhoods; the downpayment, purchase and upkeep of a waterfront condominium in Chelsea, Massachusetts; and luxury clothing, dining, and travel, including a $16,000 two-week South American cruise.”

Morris worked for the distributor until 2012. He sold his Chelsea condominium in early 2013 for $312,000, real estate records show, and he’s currently in custody.

On Wednesday, prosecutors said that while Morris should receive credit for time served since his arrest, he’s overplaying that card in a bid for leniency.

“Morris . . . urges the Court to go further and to vary its sentence downward, in part because of the conditions at the Brazilian jail where he waited to be extradited,” the feds wrote. “The conditions Morris describes do sound unpleasant, and they are (if as described) inferior to what he would have experienced at many pre-trial detention facilities in the United States.”


Still, the government said, Morris made his own bed.

“Morris was detained in Brazil (and at the Presídio Ary Franco facility specifically) for only one reason: he moved to Brazil (from Uruguay) after stealing $2 million from PBSd and leaving the United States,” prosecutors wrote.

Material from prior Globe stories was used in this report. Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.