Henry Mathis' federal trial begins - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Henry Mathis' federal trial begins

June 6, 2005

Albany-- federal extortion trial of Albany city commissioner. The jury who will decide his fate is seated and ready to hear the case. Henry Mathis faced the jurors who will decide his fate for the first time this morning.

 Mathis is accused of extorting hundreds of dollars from three Albany business people.  Monday, lawyers questioned and picked jurors. They also announced long lists of witnesses who may testify in the federal trial, from former Albany Police Chief Bobby Johnson to Governor Sonny Perdue.

Mathis arrived to the federal courthouse in Albany before 8:00 Monday morning, just missing a line of jurors also arriving for the trial. Mathis' attorney, Rick Collum, and prosecutors sent the day questioning a pool of 49 potential jurors. They were asked about former jury experience, their jobs and hobbies.

Then one by one, they were taken out of the courtroom and questioned about how much pre-trial publicity they heard and read in the media, and if it would influence their decision on Mathis' guilt.

Attorney Collum and federal prosecutors also announced a list of witnesses, more than 20 in all. Set to testify, besides the plaintiffs accusing Mathis of extortion, are Governor Sonny Perdue, former Albany Police Chief Bobby Johnson, Dougherty County Sheriff Jamil Saba, Judge Willie Weaver, and the list goes on.

 Mathis faces three counts of extortion by a public official and one count of giving misleading statements to law enforcements. If sentenced, he could serve 41 to 51 months in federal prison.

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