Dawson Mayor Awaits Trial - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Dawson Mayor Awaits Trial

The case against Dawson Mayor Robert Albritten could go to trial before the end of the year.  Albritten was indicted last week for fraudently taking out life insurance policies on the sick and elderly and collecting the money when they died. 

Robert Albritten was arrested at his funeral home business in Dawson Wednesday morning.  He was brought to Dougherty County and booked on charges outlined in a lengthy, 28 count indictment.  The indictment outlines a scam that prosecutors say he was running with Pearlie L. Johnson, owner of the now-defunct Quality Care Personal Care Home in Albany.

Ten people are named in the indictment as victims of the scam.

"These residents were wards of the state. They were either mentally handicapped or senior citizens with low or no income. They were being taken care of at state expense at this personal care home," said Georgia Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine.

Between May 1990 and October 1994, Robert Albritten,  in his role as an insurance agent, took out the life insurance policies on the 10 people, with the value totaling $42,000.

Three of the victims have since died. James Burton, Cleveland Williams and Willie Worthy were all three buried by Albritten's Funeral Service and proceeds from their life insurance policies eventually went to Robert Albritten, a total of $8,000.

It was James Burton's death that blew the lid off this case. The personal care home owner, Pearlie Johnson, was arrested in November for not seeking medical care for the critically ill Burton, but rather continuing to collect his medicaid payments. He died a week after being transferred to a nursing home.

As Pearlie Johnson faced murder charges, she started talking and told prosecutors about the insurance scam she and Albritten were running.

 "They were working together and in cahoots," said Oxendine.

All the insurance applications fraudently list either Pearlie Johnson or some of her friends and family as relatives of the policy holders, and conceal the fact that the policy holders were actually residents of her personal care home.

 None of the victims knew life insurance policies had been taken on them.

"He would put the policies in their name, forge their signatures, and make commissions off the sale," said Oxendine."

And the money from the policies would be signed over to Robert Albritten to pay for the funerals.

However, these criminal charges won't have any affect on Albritten's job as mayor of Dawson.

"This won't affect his political service because these crimes were committed in his role as an insurance agent and funeral home director, not mayor," said Dougherty District Attorney Ken Hodges.

 So Albritten, who is free from jail on five thousand dollars bond, is expected to be present at the next Dawson City Council meeting in September.