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Entries in Bail (7)

Friday
Jun292012

George Zimmerman Hopes to Go Free at Bond Hearing

ABC News(SANFORD, Fla.) -- George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watchman charged with murder in the shooting death of teenager Trayvon Martin, hopes a judge will agree to let him out of jail on Friday.

Zimmerman, 28, will appear in court Friday morning at a bail hearing and faces the prospect of a prolonged stay in jail if his plea is rejected.

It is Zimmerman's second appearance before Circuit Court Judge Kenneth Lester.  During the last one on April 20, he sat stone-faced as his wife brazenly lied to the court about the Zimmermans' finances.

Zimmerman's wife, Shellie Zimmerman, told the judge she was essentially broke, when in the days leading up to that hearing, she and her husband held clumsily-coded jailhouse conversations about shuffling to various accounts $135,000 in cash amassed from donations to Zimmermans website.  Audio tapes of the hushed jailhouse conversations were released earlier this month.

Shellie Zimmerman has been charged with perjury.

Orlando defense attorney Mark Lippman said that whether or not Lester grants George Zimmerman bail, he is likely to "receive a tongue-lashing from the judge."

It is also expected that if the normally stern judge grants Zimmerman bail, the bond would be much higher than his previous bond of $150,000. Typically, bail bondsmen charge 10 percent of the total bond.

Zimmerman shot Martin, 17, on Feb. 26.  The teenager was unarmed, but Zimmerman claims he was knocked down and shot Martin in self defense when they both went for Zimmerman's gun.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jun262012

'Millionaire Madam' Released on Lower Bail After Four Months in New York Jail

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A U.K.-born woman accused of orchestrating a prostitution business for high-powered clientele in Manhattan was released from jail Tuesday night after spending four months behind bars unable to make the $2 million bail.

Anna Gristina, 44, who earned the nickname the "Millionaire Madam" has gathered enough collateral to meet a reduced bail of $250,000. As part of the bail package, Gristina will be required to wear an electronic ankle bracelet.

"Thank you, everybody," Gristina told reporters on her exit from New York's Criminal Court just after 9 p.m.

The D.A. did not object to the bail package for the New York mom, who has been in jail since her Feb. 22 arrest. Gristina's bail was originally set at $2 million, an amount she said she could not afford.

Prosecutors had argued the accused madam would present a flight risk if released while she awaits trial on a charge of promoting prostitution in the third degree.

Gristina, who allegedly operated under the name Anna Scotland for 15 years, has long been adamant she was merely setting up a matchmaking service.

The service allegedly netted Gristina millions of dollars as attractive young women and wealthy men came and went from an unassuming brownstone on Manhattan's Upper East Side.

Her list of clients allegedly included politicians, bankers, executives, top law enforcement officials, and other powerful individuals.

"I'm surprised there was a brothel next door," Tony Kim, who owns Danny Boy's Cleaners, told ABC News of the allegations. "I've never seen anything like people walking in and out during the day."

The accused madam was allegedly caught on wiretaps and surveillance videos as part of a five-year investigation by the District Attorney's Public Corruption Unit, which probes the conduct of law enforcement and other officials and whether they have been protecting Gristina's alleged activities.

Prosecutors alleged at her arraignment that the tapes capture her bragging about how law enforcement sources promised to warn her if she were under suspicion, particularly during the time New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer was revealed to be a client of an escort service that was shut down in 2009.

She was heard on wiretaps talking about a friend who is a prominent lawyer and the precautions he helped her take in the event of her arrest, according to prosecutors.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Jun022012

George Zimmerman's Creditability at Stake as He Is Ordered Back to Jail

Seminole County Sheriff`s Office(NEW YORK) -- A day after a judge revoked George Zimmerman's bail status for hiding a stash of money from the court, law enforcement officials say they are in constant contact with him and know his whereabouts as he makes his way to the Seminole County Jail in Sanford, Fla. this weekend.

Less than six weeks ago, George Zimmerman walked out of Seminole County Courthouse a free man on bail, preparing to live the next year or two of his life in hiding as he awaited the beginning of his high profile murder trial for the death of Trayvon Martin.

But a clearly piqued Circuit Court Judge Kenneth Lester ordered him back in jail by Sunday afternoon – a reaction to the surprise evidence introduced by the prosecution showing that Zimmerman held coded telephone conversations with his wife about the many tens of thousands of dollars he'd amassed in his PayPal link opened on April 9 – and then told the court he was virtually penniless.

Since his attorney last month waived his right to a speedy trial, Zimmerman could conceivably spend the duration of the trial in isolation for his own security.

"At this time revoke his bond," said Judge Kenneth Lester as court room observers gasped. "Order him to surrender himself within 48 hours."

The prosecution presented at least four jailhouse phone conversations in which George and Shelly Zimmerman were apparently discussing tiny amounts of money, but were allegedly referring to some of the $200,000 supporters had poured into his PayPal account.

At the time of the recordings, Zimmerman had just been recently arrested and charged with second-degree murder in the death of unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

During one call on April 16, Zimmerman and his wife were taped discussing their bank accounts.

George Zimmerman: In my account do I have at least $100?

Shelly Zimmerman: No

George Zimmerman: How close am I?

Shelly Zimmerman: $8. $8.60

George Zimmerman: Really? So total everything how much are we looking at?

Shelly Zimmerman: Like $155

Prosecutor Bernie De La Rionda noted Shelly Zimmerman actually meant $155,000.

He said the couple knew that their conversation was being recorded but that they were speaking in code and knowingly withheld from the court the amount of money brought in from therealgeorgezimmerman.com, the now defunct website set up by the 28-year-old to help fund his defense fund.

Zimmerman set up the site on April 9.

He released his first public comments about his role in the death of Trayvon Martin on it, and in less than 2 weeks the site raised $200,000 in anonymous donations sent via a PayPal link.

Information provided by Zimmerman's attorney a week after he was released on bail showed that the couple had $135,000 in their bank account a day before the April 20 hearing.

In court his wife said she had no idea how much money they received from the site and that they had no money, an argument Zimmerman's attorney Mark O'Mara used in court to help persuade the judge to set bail at $150,000.

The prosecution had requested bail to be set at $1 million.

"I quite frankly from the state position will flat out call it what it is, the defendant's wife lied to the court," said De La Rionda.

The prosecution contended that even though Zimmerman was in jail, he was "intimately involved" in the deposit and transfer of money from the site to various accounts.

During two of the recorded calls, Shelly Zimmerman was speaking with her husband from a Credit Union, and in one of the calls Zimmerman himself, was speaking directly to a Credit Union official.

During another recorded conversation on April 16, prosecutors say the two were discussing how to move forward with bond.

George Zimmerman: If the bond is more than 15, pay the 15. If more than 15 pay 10 percent to the bondsman.

Shelly Zimmerman: You don't want me to pay $100.

George Zimmerman: I don't know.

Shelly Zimmerman: All right just think about it.

George Zimmerman: I will.

Shelly Zimmerman: That's what it's for.

O'Mara said that the couple was not deliberately hiding money, and that it was "more of an innocent misunderstanding than a devious attempt to hide money."

At the time, Zimmerman was hesitant to use a bondsman to secure his release, due to the fear of an outsider knowing his whereabouts.

The Seminole County Sheriff's Office officials said they know the whereabouts of Zimmerman, who is mandated to wear a GPS ankle bracelet 24/7 and that they are in constant contact with him.

Although it is almost a certainty that his attorney will seek to regain his freedom albeit a much higher bond, Zimmerman now faces the prospects of facing the next year or two in protective custody.

Zimmerman's attorney had earlier waived his right to a speedy trial and earlier during the hearing before his bail was addressed had said he didn't expect the trial to begin until sometime during 2013 at the earliest.

Prosecutors said they believe Zimmerman misled his attorney about his financial situation as well as the court.

Along with conversations about their finances, prosecutors also told the Judge that Zimmerman was hiding a second passport from authorities that he acquired shortly after the Martin shooting and had stored in a safety deposit box.

But after his bond he did turn the second passport into his attorney who quickly notified the court. The judge agreed with his attorney, that the second passport, which was never used, was not being hid maliciously.

Martin family attorney Benjamin Crump who looked elated as the judge made his ruling spoke before cameras and said this was the most important development of the case so far.

"We think what just transpired in the court room was very, very important," said Crump. "It was at the crux of the matter in the whole case. Judge Lester finding that he was dishonest is very important because his credibility is the most important thing in this entire case."

No known evidence exists detailing who instigated the confrontation between the two, but the second-degree murder case against George Zimmerman could hinge on his assertion that the unarmed teen attacked him. Zimmerman is the only person who knows exactly what happened that night.

Friday's hearing began with the state and prosecution unsuccessfully arguing that releasing more evidence to the public could jeopardize Zimmerman receiving a fair trial and unduly burden witnesses in the case.

The judge sided with the media's claim that Florida's broad public record laws mandated that more evidence be released but said he needed 30 days to figure out how to best to handle the release.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Apr272012

Trayvon Martin Case: George Zimmerman Judge Looks at Donations, Bail Amount

ABC News(SANFORD, Fla.) -- Prosecutors in the Trayvon Martin shooting case asked a Florida judge Friday to increase the bail amount for George Zimmerman after news that the 17-year-old's killer had raised more than $200,000 through a Paypal account on his website.

Circuit Court judge Kenneth Lester Jr. said he wanted to scrutinize the account to learn more about who opened the site, who managed it and exactly how much money it contained.

The site called TheRealGeorgeZimmerman.com was closed earlier this week after Zimmerman's attorney Mark O'Mara took control over and deposited the money in trust accounts, he told the court Friday. Zimmerman faces second-degree murder charges for shooting 17-year-old Martin on Feb. 26.

In a CNN interview Thursday, O'Mara said he was surprised to learn about the money. "He asked me what to do with his PayPal accounts, and I asked him what he was talking about," O'Mara said. "He said those were the accounts that had the money from the website he had. And there was about ... $204,000 that had come in to date."

Judge Lester said he would not make any "snap" decisions Friday as he deliberates what to do regarding the previously undisclosed account.

O'Mara asked that the names of the donors requested by the judge be revealed only in the judge's chambers to shield the hitherto anonymous Zimmerman donors from "ridicule and danger."

Zimmerman, 28, was a neighborhood watch volunteer when he saw Martin walking through his gated community, followed him, and shot him. Zimmerman was released early Monday on $150,000 bail. His family put up 10 percent to secure his release. His current location is unknown.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Apr232012

George Zimmerman Released from Jail on $150,000 Bond

Seminole County Sheriff's Office(SANFORD, Fla.) -- George Zimmerman, wearing a bullet proof vest, walked out of a Florida jail shortly after midnight Monday and slipped back into hiding where his lawyer says he will likely stay until his trial next year.

Zimmerman was able to leave jail after posting $150,000 bond as he awaits trial on a second degree murder charge for the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

Later Monday, Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee will officially resign, ABC News has learned exclusively. Lee, who had been "temporarily suspended" last month in the wake of the killing, is expected to make it official at 4 p.m.

Zimmerman was fitted with an electronic monitoring device prior to release, according to a statement from the sheriff's office. The GPS device, which can give immediate identification of an offender's whereabouts anywhere in the U.S., suggests that the defense's request that he be allowed to wait out the trial out of Florida may have been granted.

The terms of his release require him to report his whereabouts every three days, according to court documents.

Zimmerman stunned a Florida court Friday by taking the stand and apologizing to the parents of Trayvon Martin, who were sitting in the courtroom during Zimmerman's bond hearing.

Zimmerman told police the night he shot and killed Martin that he acted in self-defense after Martin punched him and pounced on him. Zimmerman told police that Martin then bashed his head into the concrete sidewalk during the altercation that took place in the tidy middle-class development of the Retreat at Twin Lakes in Sanford, Fla.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Feb102012

Jerry Sandusky Returns to Court Seeking Change to Terms of Bail

Mark Wilson/Getty ImagesUPDATE: Former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky dismissed allegations Friday that he has been leering at school children from his back deck and argued that he should be allowed to visit at least with his grandchildren while under house arrest for child molestation charges.

Judge John Cleland said that he would rule on the requests from both the defense and the prosecution quickly, perhaps by next week.

(BELLEFONTE, Pa.) -- Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky will be back in court Friday morning, hoping to convince a judge to change the conditions of his house arrest so that he can see his grandchildren.

The 68-year-old, who is charged with 52 counts relating to child molestation for the alleged abuse of 10 victims during a 15-year period, says his grandkids have expressed sadness about not being able to see him and he wants the terms of his bail changed so they can visit.

Still, prosecutors oppose it. They say house arrest is comparable to incarceration and, therefore, Sandusky should be treated as if he were locked up in Centre County prison.

"House arrest is not meant to be a house party. Contact visits do not occur in the Centre County prison and should not occur during [Sandusky's] house arrest," Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly wrote in objections submitted to the court, according to StateCollege.com.

"This defendant is categorically different from other defendants and should be treated differently from others on house arrest in Centre County," she continued.

Prosecutors say Sandusky's home is where many of his alleged victims were molested, and if anything, they want to see his bail terms tightened so that he can't sit on his back porch, as he's currently allowed to do. His outdoor presence has concerned local residents, especially since there's a school playground adjacent to his property.

Sandusky's attorney, Joe Amendola, called the fears "totally unfounded."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Feb022012

Bail for Teacher in LA Student Abuse Case Set at $23 Million 

Hemera/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- Bail was raised on a third-grade teacher from Los Angeles accused of molesting school kids, making it virtually impossible for him to leave his prison cell before he faces trial.

In his first appearance since being arrested, 61-year-old Mark Berndt learned from a judge on Wednesday that his bail was increased from $2.3 million to $23 million.

Berndt is alleged to have committed lewd acts on 23 children in his classroom at Miramonte Elementary School between 2008 and 2010.  Since being taken into custody, five more alleged victims have come forward to speak to authorities.

According to court papers, Berndt allegedly engaged children, ages 6 to 10, in a tasting game whereby he would blindfold and sometimes gag the youngsters.  They were given a substance and asked to describe it as salty or sweet.

Investigators said that DNA evidence shows the substance was Berndt's semen.

He was busted when a worker at a film processing outlet turned over photos of the alleged abuse to police.  In addition, Berndt reportedly let Madagascar cockroaches crawl on some of the youngsters' faces.

Prosecutors said if Berndt is convicted, he could receive a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







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