Pubdate: Fri, 25 Dec 2009
Source: Ledger-Enquirer (Columbus,GA)
Copyright: 2009 Ledger-Enquirer
Author: Alan Riquelmy


Shelnutt Asks For More Than $200,000 In Attorney's Fees And Expenses

Government prosecutors requested more time on Wednesday to respond to
a Dec. 15 motion from Columbus attorney Mark Shelnutt, who asked for
more than $200,000 in attorney's fees and expenses.

Shelnutt, acquitted last month of charges including money laundering,
aiding and abetting a conspiracy to distribute cocaine, attempted
bribery and making false statements, states in an exhibit to his
motion that he paid or must pay several attorneys more than $190,000
and that he incurred some $35,000 in expenses while defending himself.

In the motion, Shelnutt cites the "Hyde Amendment," enacted in 1997,
which enables a judge to award reasonable attorney's fees and expenses
to a defendant, "where the court finds that the position of the United
States was vexatious, frivolous or in bad faith," the motion states. A
judge could also award more than the fees and expenses totaled,
Shelnutt states.

Prosecutors said Wednesday their due date for a response would be Jan.
8. Because of the holiday season, prosecutors requested an extension
to Jan. 22, which U.S. District Court Judge Clay Land granted the same

Prosecutors said in their motion that Shelnutt's attorney didn't
oppose the extension.

Accusations, acquittal

Shelnutt was linked by authorities in a May 21 indictment to convicted
drug dealer Torrance Hill, whom Shelnutt once represented. Hill
pleaded guilty to drug charges in 2006 and is serving a 24 1/2-year

Hill and several others linked to his drug organization testified at
Shelnutt's November trial. Initially facing 40 counts, government
prosecutors motioned to dismiss four of those before the jury began

Jurors then found Shelnutt not guilty of the remaining counts at the
end of the eight-day trial.

Land has questioned prosecutors' recommended sentences for people
linked to Hill, saying in the case of Shawn Bunkley that he wanted to
ensure defendants were held responsible for their conduct, not on what
the government agreed to in a plea agreement.

In his Dec. 15 motion, Shelnutt states that the government had no
legal or factual basis to charge him with any alleged crime.

"This conclusion is inescapable given the government's possession of
statements by its key witnesses and alleged coconspirators, Torrance
Hill, Latea Davis and Shawn Bunkley admitting, on tape, that Mr.
Shelnutt had not engaged in any wrongdoing," the motion states.

Davis, Hill's former girlfriend, faced federal charges in connection
with the drug ring.

She was put on pretrial diversion, which is similar to probation
without a conviction.

Bunkley pleaded guilty to drug charges, and prosecutors recommended a
sentence of three to four years in prison.

In December, Land sentenced Bunkley to almost 10 years in prison.
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