Zimmerman's wife arrested for perjury

Tuesday, June 12, 2012 - 6:03pm

George Zimmerman's wife was arrested Tuesday afternoon for allegedly lying at his bond hearing about the couple's finances.

Shellie N. Zimmerman, 25, faces a perjury charge, according to Jackie Barnard, spokeswoman for the State Attorney's office for the Fourth Judicial District of Florida. She met conditions for a $1,000 bond and was released Tuesday afternoon, according to the Seminole County Sheriff's Office.

At her husband's April 20 bond hearing, Shellie Zimmerman was asked whether the couple had financial means to assist in the defense.

"Uhm, not -- not that I'm aware of," she replied, according to a probable cause affidavit filed Monday.

She also testified under oath she was not aware of how much had been raised from a website soliciting cash for George Zimmerman's defense in the February shooting death of Trayvon Martin, 17, in Sanford, Florida. Zimmerman said he acted in self-defense.

In April, Zimmerman was charged with second-degree murder after the case was referred to a state attorney for a review. He was released from custody later that month after posting bail.

On June 1, Seminole County Judge Kenneth Lester Jr. ordered Zimmerman back to jail, accusing the suspect of not being truthful about how much money he had access to when his bond was set.

Prosecutors alleged that George Zimmerman, 28, actually had about $135,000.

According to the affidavit, prepared by an investigator with the State Attorney's office, the Zimmermans discussed finances via phone before the April 20 bond hearing.

Those talks included the transfer of money from George Zimmerman's account to accounts of his sister and wife, according to the affidavit.

Records show $47,000 was transferred from George Zimmerman's account to his sister's account from April 16 and 17, authorities allege. Shellie Zimmerman transferred more than $74,000 from her husband's account to her account from April 16 to April 19, the affidavit states.

George Zimmerman asked his wife in jail calls to "pay off all the bills," including an American Express bill and a Sam's Club card, prosecutors allege.

On April 24, after his release on bond, Shellie Zimmerman transferred more than $85,500 from her account back to George Zimmerman's account, according to the affidavit.

Shellie Zimmerman will be arraigned July 31.

Prosecutors have alleged the Zimmermans spoke in code when discussing the money in a credit union account, according to court documents filed by State Attorney Angela B. Corey.

Zimmerman "fully controlled and participated in the transfer of money from the PayPal account to defendant and his wife's credit union accounts," Corey said in court records. "This occurred prior to the time defendant was arguing to the court that he was indigent and his wife had no money."

The judge "relied on false representations and statements" by Zimmerman and his wife when the court set his bond at $150,000, Corey said. Zimmerman was required to post only 10% of that.

Defense lawyers have argued that "the vast majority of the funds in question are in an independently managed trust" that Zimmerman and his attorneys cannot access directly.

"The audio recordings of Mr. Zimmerman's phone conversation while in jail make it clear that Mr. Zimmerman knew a significant sum had been raised by his original fundraising website," attorneys said last week. "We feel the failure to disclose these funds was caused by fear, mistrust and confusion. The gravity of this mistake has been distinctly illustrated, and Mr. Zimmerman understands that this mistake has undermined his credibility, which he will have to work to repair."

The attorneys said Zimmerman did disclose the existence of the funds five days after the bond hearing, during his first conversation with the defense about the fund. "When the defense team learned of the funds, we disclosed this to the court and to the State Attorney's Office, and the money was transferred to the Legal Defense Fund, which is now independently managed," the defense said.

Of the $204,000 raised by the website, about $150,000 is now in the defense fund and $30,000 was used "to make the complicated transition from private life in Sanford, Florida, to a life in hiding as a defendant in a high-profile court case."

The remainder, about $20,000, "was kept liquid to provide living expenses for the first several months as the legal process unfolds," attorneys said.
 

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