Mayor on trial for fraud - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Mayor on trial for fraud

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September 17, 2003

Albany - The insurance fraud trial of a southwest Georgia mayor continues. A jury will decide if Dawson Mayor Robert Albritten is guilty of illegally profiting from policies he sold to elderly south Georgians.

Opening statements finished this afternoon in the longtime Dawson Mayor's trial. Robert Albritten was indicted last year on 28 counts of fraud and forgery. On Tuesday, the jury heard from the first witnesses.

\Dawson Mayor Robert Albritten accused of forgery and fraud. Assistant District Attorney, Troy Golden, says to the jury, "Mr. Robert Albritten acted as a dishonest life insurance salesman."

During opening statements, Defense Attorney Bill Murray tells the jury to listen closely to evidence. He says, "Nothing in the evidence will show you he did anything to fraud anyone."

The prosecution says Albritten was selling Monumental Life Insurance policies to residents at Top Quality Care, a personal care home. Albritten's funeral home handled the clients burials. Golden adds, "He filled out these applications in such a way the insurance company he worked for, they accepted these applications."

He's also accused of listing people like Pearlie Johnson as beneficiaries, having them falsely claim they're related to the insured. Johnson is the owner of the personal care home. The state's first witness was Senior Insurance Underwriter Gail Riley. Murray says to Riley, "He [Albritten] writes down Mrs. Johnson is the niece, nothing wrong with that." She replies, "That is correct." The defense says insurance agents, like Albritten, have no way of knowing if beneficiaries are relatives.

After the jury was selected one juror was cut because he's a distant cousin of Albritten. An alternate took his place.

posted at 6:20PM by kathryn.simmons@walb.com