Court filing: George Zimmerman said ‘hell no’ to using PayPal cash for bond
When asked by his wife whether the more than $135,000 collected from supporters through his website should be used for his bond, George Zimmerman answered “hell no.”
That’s among the revelations in the court filing by prosecutors who requested that bond be revoked for the 28-year-old neighborhood watch volunteer who shot Trayvon Martin to death in February.
Judge Kenneth Lester revoked George Zimmerman’s bond on June 1, after finding that Shellie Zimmerman had lied under oath about the couple’s finances, and that George Zimmerman knew about it — but failed to inform the court when he, too, testified at his bond hearing on April 20. The couple briefly occupied the same correctional facility in Sanford, Florida, before Shellie Zimmerman was released on a $1,000 bond on Monday. The 25-year-old nursing student is charged with one count of perjury, a felony that could, if she is convicted, prevent her from obtaining a professional license in Florida.
According to the “probable cause” affidavit filed against Shellie Zimmerman, prosecutors allege that she deliberately misrepresented how much money the couple had available, while George Zimmerman’s lawyer argued for a low bond amount.
When asked by her husband’s attorney, Mark O’Mara, during the bond hearing, whether there were any “major assets” that could be reasonably liquidated to assist in coming up with money for a bond, Shellie Zimmerman answered, “none that I know of.”
As the questioning continued, Shellie Zimmerman was asked if she was aware that O’Mara was petitioning the court to have the Zimmermans declared indigent, based on the fact that neither was working or collecting unemployment insurance, in addition to the lack of assets, either owned by them or their family members. She affirmed that she had discussed that with him.
Shellie Zimmerman was also questioned by prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda, the assistant state attorney, about the web site George Zimmerman had created, which was linked to a PayPal account, to raise money for his living and other expenses while in hiding in the days before he was charged in the Martin killing. Mrs. Zimmerman told the prosecutor she was aware of the web site, but that “currently,” she did not know how much money was in the PayPal account, nor could she offer an estimate.
However, prosecutors obtained bank records that showed that on the day before the hearing, George and Shellie Zimmerman’s credit union accounts contained more than $135,000 — and possibly as much as $155,000 — which had been transferred in several batches of as little as $7,500 and as much as $74,000. These amounts were transferred between April 16 and April 19 from the PaylPal account in question. In addition, phone records from the jail where George Zimmerman was being held while attempting to make bond show that he and Shellie Zimmerman discussed the transfers, using code words to mask the amounts of money being placed in the credit union accounts belonging to each spouse. Both accounts were “controlled by Shellie Zimmerman” at the time, according to court documents, along with a separate safe deposit box also holding monies.
Those phone transcripts suggest that George Zimmerman opposed using the money raised through his web site to pay for his bond.
During one call, George Zimmerman asks, “In my account, do I have at least $100?” — meaning $100,000, according to prosecutors. When Shellie Zimmerman answered, “no,” George asked, “How close am I?” He was told by Shellie, “There’s like $8. $8.60.”
“So total everything how much are we looking at?”
“Um, like $155,” Shellie Zimmerman said.
George Zimmerman then appeared to instruct his wife about what to do with the money in relation to his bond. “If the bond is $50, pay the 15,” he told her. “If it’s more than 15, just pay 10 percent to the bondsman.”
“You don’t want me to pay $100?,” Shellie Zimmerman asked.
“Hell no,” George replied.
Shellie Zimmerman seemed to push back, asking her husband to “just think about it,” adding, “that’s what it’s for.”
During their phone conversations, the Zimmermans also discussed Shellie Zimmerman wanting to take out more cash, to “have as much cash on [her] as possible,” and George’s worry that it wasn’t safe for her to walk around with too much. “I feel safer with the gift cards,” he told her.
The credit union records also showed that more than $47,000 from the PayPal account was transferred to a bank account belonging to George Zimmerman’s sister. The phone transcripts also reveal that George Zimmerman instructed his wife to use the money, which was donated by supporters, to “pay off all the bills,” including accounts with American Express and Sam’s Club.
The day after Zimmerman bonded out of jail, Shellie Zimmerman transferred more than $85,500 from her credit union account to her husband’s, bank records show.
Zimmerman’s bond was revoked on June 1 after prosecutors presented the bank and phone records to the court. The judge, Kenneth Lester, had harsh words for the Zimmermans, saying in his written order that it was apparent that Shellie Zimmerman “testified untruthfully” at the bond hearing, and that George Zimmerman, having failed to alert the court to the misinformation, “does not properly respect the law.”
Lester’s letter said that “had the Court been made aware of the true financial circumstances at the bond hearing, the bond decision might have been different,” particularly given the fact that “this is a serious charge for which life may be imposed; the evidence against him is strong; he has been charged with one prior crime, for which he went through a pre-trial diversion program, and has had an injunction lodged against him.” That injunction was for the alleged domestic abuse of a former girlfriend — an issue that was raised during the bond hearing, but which at the time did not dissuade the judge from granting bond.
“Most importantly, though, is the fact that he has now demonstrated that he does not properly respect the law or the integrity of the judicial process,” Lester’s letter said.
There was no word Wednesday on whether Shellie Zimmerman has retained an attorney.
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