Shellie Zimmerman, wife of George Zimmerman, allegedly used small cash transfers to hide finances
(CBS/AP) ORLANDO, Fla. - Shellie Zimmerman, the wife of the neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman who is accused in the shooting death of Florida teen Trayvon Martin, allegedly transferred small amounts of money to hide the true status of the couple's finances as they sought his release on bond, say authorities.
On Tuesday, 25-year-old Zimmerman was charged with perjury, a third-degree felony that is punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. She was released on bond.
Earlier this month, Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester said in a sharply-worded ruling that George Zimmerman and his wife had lied about how much money they had at a hearing that resulted in his release on $150,000 bond. Zimmerman is now back in jail after the judge revoked the bond.
Records show that in the days before the bond hearing, Shellie Zimmerman transferred $74,000 in eight smaller amounts ranging from $7,500 to $9,990, from her husband's credit union account to hers, according to an arrest affidavit. It also shows that $47,000 was transferred from George Zimmerman's account to his sister's in the days before the bond hearing.
Four days after he was released on bond, Shellie Zimmerman transferred more than $85,500 from her account into her husband's account, the affidavit said. The affidavit also said jail call records show that George Zimmerman instructed her to "pay off all the bills," including an American Express and Sam's Club card.
A state attorney investigator met with credit union officials and learned she had control of transfers to and from her husband's account.
Jeffrey Neiman, a former federal prosecutor now in private practice, said cash transactions in excess of $10,000 usually trigger a reporting requirement by the bank to multiple government agencies - including the IRS.
"If Mrs. Zimmerman intentionally structured the financial transactions in a manner to keep the offense under $10,000, not only may she have committed perjury in the state case, but she also may have run afoul of several federal statutes and could face serious federal criminal charges," Neiman wrote in an email to The Associated Press.
George Zimmerman, 28, has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder in the teen's slaying. Judge Lester ordered Zimmerman returned to the Seminole County Jail and revoked his bond June 1. He had been free since late April.
George Zimmerman's attorney Mark O'Mara has said the couple was confused and fearful when they misled court officials about how much money they had.
George Zimmerman has maintained since the Feb. 26 killing that he shot Martin in self-defense because the unarmed 17-year-old was beating him up after confronting Zimmerman about following him in a gated community outside Orlando.
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