Atty. Mark Shelnutt allegedly asks for immunity - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Atty. Mark Shelnutt allegedly asks for immunity

by Roslyn Giles  - email | bio

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Federal Prosecutor Mel Hyde testified today in Attorney Mark Shelnutt’s Money Laundering Trial that he was astonished after receiving a letter from Shelnutt asking for immunity in exchange for cooperation for his client Torrence Hill.

He described Shelnutt’s behavior as “paranoid” and says Shelnutt offered him free Georgia Bulldog football tickets on several occasions.  He added Shelnutt even tried to pay for his meal at a restaurant in which he didn’t know Shelnutt was present.  Hyde told the jury he declined every time.

He says that type of request has never happened in his 20 years of practice and it just wasn’t going to happen.

Bookkeeper Pamela Roberts from Berry, Day, Shelnutt and Hoffman Law Firm also testified that Shelnutt became angry with her when she made copies of some cash paid to him in legal fees and logged into the books.

When she inquired about it, Roberts told the jury, Shelnutt told her it wasn’t any of her business how he conducts his finances.

The defense showed Roberts two receipts made out to Torrence Hill’s ex-wife Tamika. Roberts responded by saying she didn’t recognize the documents as normal receipts used by the law firm.

Assistant US Attorney Jason Ferguson says he agreed to meet with Shelnutt to answer his questions prior to his indictment. He admitted on the stand that he lied when he told Shelnutt the meeting would not be recorded.  The recording was later revealed and when Shelnutt was told the device had been stopped; it in fact was still going. Ferguson says he thought the device was off and later learned otherwise from Agent Todd Kalish who said the recording was off.

A federal financial investigator was also questioned about Shelnutt’s bank statements.  Her findings revealed, according to testimony, increased case deposits into 3 bank accounts. One belonged to Shelnutt’s ex-wife, Chris, the two other accounts were Shelnutts; one in Columbus and another account in North Carolina.

The defense fired back accusing the government of ignoring cash deposits made before the time period in question which is from 2005 to 2008 when Shelnutt allegedly collected large amounts of cash in lawyer fees from Hill and several of his cohorts.  Bank statements from 2003 to 2004 showed several cash deposits.

The trial starts again Monday, November 16th, 2009 at 8:00 a.m. at the Federal Court house in downtown Columbus.



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