Federal inmate and drug dealer testifies in Shelnutt's Case - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Federal inmate and drug dealer testifies in Shelnutt's Case

by Roslyn Giles  - email | bio

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - More testimony from several witnesses Wednesday in Attorney Mark Shelnutt’s Money Laundering Trial. Inmate Shawn Bunkley a.k.a. “Biscuit” and former partner of convicted drug dealer Torrence Hill entered the courtroom in leg shackles.

Bunkley testified that Torrence Hill instructed him to pay Shelnutt $125,000 for previous legal fees Hill owed Shelnutt.  Bunkley says the transaction happened in 2006 in the Publix parking lot on Schomberg Road. Bunkley added Shelnutt later called him to say the money was short by about $50,000. No receipt was given, according to Bunkley.

Bunkley first testified for the prosecution that he got the money from selling Hill’s race car for $90,000 through a wire transfer from the buyer.  During cross examination, Bunkley admitted that it was $50,000 wired into his account and that he didn’t pay Shelnutt a single dime of that money. The admission came after the defense team presented bank statements showing the transactions.

Bunkley told jurors that Shelnutt invited him and several other drug defendants in a February 2008 hearing in Harris County to a private meeting at his office in Columbus.  According to testimony, that meeting was a direct result of Shelnutt hearing another attorney blurt out in open court that he was under investigation.  Bunkley says Shelnutt advised the group, “to stick together and to keep their mouths closed.”

The jury also heard taped phone conversations from Bunkley’s attorney, Mark Casto, who had agreed to work with federal agents by recording his conversations with Shelnutt. Shelnutt is heard asking Casto about an interview, Casto and Bunkley had with Drug Enforcement Agents.  Casto replied, “I can’t tell you, Mark.”

 Government attorneys also questioned Casto about a letter he signed along with several other defense attorneys drafted from Shelnutt Day & Hoffman’s Law Firm.  The letter was addressed to the district attorney’s office complaining that narcotics agents were falsifying search warrant affidavits by coping and pasting information to gain access to drug suspect’s homes.  Casto says he wasn’t threatened by Shelnutt to sign the form, but felt “friendly pressure” because he wanted to avoid any conflicts with Shelnutt because he was certain to become the next Superior Court Judge.

An IRS agent who receives 8300 forms for businesses receiving more than $10,000 in cash in a trade or business testified that she never received documentation from Shelnutt or his law firm.  The defense had no questions during cross examination.


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