Feds: Mathis extortion was recorded - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Feds: Mathis extortion was recorded

January 31, 2005

Albany-- Federal prosecutors say they have video tapes showing Albany commissioner Henry Mathis taking money from the man he's accused of extorting. But Mathis' attorney say the tapes aren't even audible.

The news of this latest evidence against Henry Mathis comes from court records. The records state federal prosecutors have video and audio tapes proving Mathis extorted man from an Albany businessman and then lied to GBI agents about it.

Will three video tapes and seven audio recordings be enough to convict indicted Albany Commissioner Henry Mathis?

Mathis is accused of extorting money from Joe McDonald, an associate of O.R.M Paradise Club, and then lying to GBI agents. Friday, prosecutors handed over video tapes to Mathis's defense attorney.

According to court documents, the video tapes show McDonald handing Mathis hundreds of dollars in cash on two days in October 2003.

Court documents also state there are audio tapes of telephone conversations between Mathis and McDonald from October 2003 to November 2004 and audio tapes of recorded statements in which Mathis told GBI agents he didn't receive money from McDonald. Photocopies of three $100 bills are also listed as evidence.

Mathis's attorney Rick Collum says he hasn't received the audio tapes or the photocopied money. He says "The video tapes are not audible and you can't hear the conversation between McDonald and Mathis."

 He went on to say "you can't tell what McDonald handed Mathis." Federal prosecutors won't comment on the case, but the federal indictment stated that Mathis "wrongfully obtained moneys" from McDonald through "...threatened fear of economic harm."

Collum says that "McDonald pursued Mathis with the money" and that "McDonald isn't telling the whole story to investigators... truth that will come out in trial" and prove Mathis isn't guilty."

A trial date has not been set yet. The Governor has until Friday to appoint a three-person panel which will investigate whether Mathis will be allowed to continue serving on the city commission while awaiting trial.

Mathis and his wife, Carolyn, also filed for bankruptcy in December 31st.

posted at 4:15PM by dave.miller@walb.com

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