Confirmed – George Zimmerman Owes $2.5 Million to Lawyers
Why would Mark O’Mara expect for George Zimmerman to pay him now?
On November 18, 2013, George Zimmerman was arrested on charges of felony aggravated assault, battery and criminal mischief. He filed an affidavit that he is indigent, alleging that he is unemployed, has $144 in cash, and is in debt for $2.5 million. In that case, Zimmerman’s bail was set at $9,000. Frank Taaffe told Nancy Grace that he posted the $900 bond.
In other words, Zimmerman’s legal defense fund does not have $900 to post the bond on his behalf.
Orlando Sentinel reports some things that bring clarity to George Zimmerman’s financial affidavit that he filed with the court.
Two months ago, George Zimmerman received a bill for $2.5 million bill from his former attorneys Mark O’Mara and Don West. According to Mark O’Mara, each lawyer billed him for about 3,000 hours. O’Mara charged $400 per hour, and West charged $350 per hour.
In April 2012, for no money, O’Mara took the case to represent George Zimmerman on his 2nd degree murder charge. O’Mara learned that George was raising money via a website. Zimmerman opened that site the weekend before his arrest. After his arrest, the money initially poured in. At his first bond hearing, the State of Florida, represented by Assistant State Attorney Bernie de la Rionda, questioned Shellie Zimmerman about that website. She testified that she was aware of it, but alleged not knowing how much the site had received.
Subsequently, the state filed a motion to revoke bond, setting forth recorded telephone conversations that George Zimmerman had with his wife Shellie where they spoke in code to keep him informed of the money, including how much, and his instructions to her on what to do with the money. Those instructions included transferring amounts in her separate account, his sister’s account, and paying off their debts. Shellie Zimmerman used the money donated to George’s legal defense to pay-off approximately $35,000 in past due debts, some of which incurred prior to February 26, 2012, the date in which Zimmerman killed unarmed, 17 year-old, Trayvon Martin.
In revoking his bond, Judge Lester wrote in his order, among other things, that George Zimmerman demonstrated that he does not properly respect the law or the integrity of the judicial process. O’Mara subsequently requested another bond hearing that was granted. Judge Lester set bond at $1 million.
The money stopped flowing in and by July 2012, Zimmerman was broke. He and O’Mara launched a campaign to raise funds including an appearance on Sean Hannity’s program, and a new website. Although Barbara Walters had agreed to interview Zimmerman, that interview was cancelled when she refused to meet his demand that the network pay for a hotel room for a month for him and Shellie.
Although Mark O’Mara was not paid hourly fees, he was still served a financial benefit via Zimmerman’s legal defense fund. The Orlando Sentinel reports that several months ago, O’Mara reported spending $52,550 on “law firm support and infrastructure.” No detailed accounting has been provided, but a spokesman for O’Mara said that it consisted of purchasing computers, upgraded software, new phones, and improved office security.
West and O’Mara also formed a private partnership, Timber Run Enterprises LLC, and for $270,000, bought the building next door to O’Mara’s Concord Street office in downtown Orlando.
O’Mara said he and West did not spend Zimmerman’s defense-fund money to buy the building but that they leased it to O’Mara’s firm, and Zimmerman’s legal defense-fund paid the rent.
The Orlando Sentinel seems to believe that during the course of the case, from his arrest to acquittal, Zimmerman’s legal defense fund received $400,000, and the majority of the money went to case expenses and supporting George and Shellie.
O’Mara told Anderson Cooper of CNN that he hopes Zimmerman will get some money from a defamation suit he filed against NBC last year. In March 2013, the parties agreed to put the case on hold until after Zimmerman’s trial. There are no signs that it is moving forward and essentially, since Zimmerman alleges in his complaint that NBC defamed him as a racist, and the U.S. Dept. of Justice is investigating to see if Zimmerman can be charged with violating Trayvon Martin’s civil rights, the case cannot move forward. Now with his recent arrest, there is more reason for why that case might be delayed further from proceeding.
O’Mara might hope that one day George Zimmerman will pay him, but it appears to be highly unlikely. With the Osterman’s, Robert Zimmerman Sr., and Jonathan Manalo having already written books, a book deal for George from his perspective would not be lucrative. America heard enough from George Zimmerman and his advocates already.