Accused scammer in federal court - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Accused scammer in federal court

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February 14, 2006

Albany -- A south Georgia man accused of being hired to burn a Donalsonville motel as part of an insurance scam was in federal court Tuesday.

Marty Harrell is accused of torching the Ramada Limited in 2002 so the operator, Dexter Harrison could collect insurance money.

Cairo businessman Dexter Harrison, the operator of the Donalsonville Ramada Limited, walked from the federal courthouse after the pre-trial hearing. Harrison is accused of hiring Marty Harrell to torch the motel in 2002.

Harrell's father, Charles Ladon Harrell, was also in court today, just a week after GBI agents raided his Cairo home searching for evidence. Don is accused of intimidating witnesses in the case, mainly Marty's wife Julie.

Today's hearing was, in part, to determine what Julie Harrell could testify to under marital confidentiality laws. Prosecutors argued some of her conversations with Marty about the alleged arson and his business with Dexter Harrison can be brought up in court. They said Marty often threatened to kill Julie, and their marriage was falling apart.

Prosecutors also asked Judge Hugh Lawson to allow testimony about two previous incidents in which Marty's farm equipment mysteriously caught fire. In both, the Georgia Farm Bureau paid off the insurance claims, totaling more than $185,000.

Judge Lawson made no decision about either motion today. The federal arson, conspiracy, and racketeering trial is scheduled to start in Thomasville a week from today.

Marty Harrell and his father, Don, both remain in jail. Dexter Harrison is out on bond.

Marty Harrell is also being investigated for a separate incident, the murder of Bobby Powell, a man he's accused of hiring to intimidate a farmer who was involved in a cattle dispute with him.

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