Embezzlement suspects make court appearance - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Embezzlement suspects make court appearance

Anne Williamson, Jerrie Berry, and Williamson's son, Sidney "Dan" Daniell heard the charges they face Thursday morning. Anne Williamson, Jerrie Berry, and Williamson's son, Sidney "Dan" Daniell heard the charges they face Thursday morning.

June 24, 2004

Albany-- Ann Williamson, the accused mastermind of the scheme, and her son, Sidney "Dan" Daniell, told the judge they can't afford lawyers after all their money and assets were frozen following their arrests in a huge embezzlement case.

Anne Williamson, her son Dan Daniell, and SOWEGA Council on Aging employee Jerrie Berry stand before the judge. They are among eight people accused of siphoning more than one million dollars from 82-year old Ima Rude.

District Attorney Ken Hodges said "They all willingly took these monies they knew they were not entitled to, and spent them lavishly."

That lavish living came to an end Wednesday when police seized houses and cars and froze bank accounts and arrested Williamson, Dan Daniell, his wife, former television producer/anchor Cyndi Daniell and Jerrie Berry, who was arrested at the Council on Aging office.

Cyndi Daniell, a paraplegic, was released from jail Wednesday. Her mother in law and husband spent the night in jail, and now penniless, asked the court to appoint lawyers to defend them.

Jerrie Berry has a lawyer, Donald Rentz. Her boss at SOWEGA Council on Aging, is still reeling from Berry's arrest. SOWEGA Executive Director Kay Hind said, "I'm really shocked, disappointed, hurt. I just can't think of enough words to describe how I feel about it."

The scam outlined by prosecutors isn't elaborate. County Guardian Michael Hall said, "Most thieves are not very smart. I don't think she's any different."

Investigators say Williamson, who was legal guardian for Ima Rude, drained money from Rude's estate and lavished her family with homes, cars and cash. But Williamson never filed court-ordered financial reports on Rude's estate. So she was replaced as legal guardian by attorney Michael Hall.

Hall said "She wrote huge checks to her family." Four more of those family members have warrants for their arrest, but so far none has been found.

In a civil suit that seeks to recover some of the money, Albany attorney Stewart Brown is named as a defendant. He represented Anne Williamson when she petitioned the court to make her Ima Rude's guardian. Brown said "Ms. Rude, like I said, knew pretty much what was going on and agreed with it. And the court agreed with it."

Brown's home was also raided and computer and records seized. And this could well be just the beginning. Prosecutors say Anne Williamson was also legal guardian for several other people.

Hall said "I strongly encourage anyone who knows that their loved one had contact with Helen Anne Williamson to go back and check the cookie jar to see if the money's still there."

In all, eight people face criminal charges. Seven of them are Anne Williamson's relatives.

posted at 4:20PM by dave.miller@walb.com

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