Testimony begins in Phillips’ trial

Published 1:07 pm Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The administrator of the $3M estate of Cary Douglas Piper, which is at the center of the state’s felony ethics and theft charges against former Probate Judge Sherrie Phillips, testified Tuesday that she brought the estate to Covington County to settle at the advice of her attorney, who carpooled to law school with Phillips.

The administrator, Mary Drew Sullivan, said she and her attorney, John Brock of Evergreen, met on several occasions with Phillips, both for lunch and in her office. The former judge told Sullivan she would have to open a bank account for the estate in Covington County for Phillips to have jurisdiction over it, Sullivan testified.

Sullivan said Phillips agreed to award her and the attorney 15 percent each for administrative and legal fees at Brock’s suggestion. Sullivan and Brock have since repaid the $450,000 each they received form the estate.

Jurors also heard from Karen Lawson, who works in the probate office; Bill Greenwald of Edward Jones investments; Greenwald’s assistant, Nichole Adkison; Russell Walters of First South Farm Credit, Nancy Cole of Regions Bank and Delmar Wiggins of D&S Vinyl Fence.

With Greenwald’s help, prosecutors presented each of 10 checks totaling $516,000 that Phillips wrote on a money-market account she established in her name and with her Social Security number with a $1.8 million check from the Piper estate.

Her attorneys, Riley Powell of Andalusia and David Harrison of Geneva, appear to be laying the groundwork for a defense that will claim that no one “owned” the money in question and that she has repaid all of the money to the account.

There were 58 people subpoenaed to testify; in the first day of testimony, the jury has heard from seven.

Court resumes at 1:15 p.m.