George Zimmermans wife, Shellie, is facing perjury charges of lying under oath about money her husband raised online, but bank records and recorded jailhouse phone calls released Monday show it was George Zimmerman who called the shots behind an elaborate, if sloppy, scheme to hide money.
Zimmermans calls from jail to his wife show that in the days before his April 20 bond hearing, he went to exhaustive lengths to give her instructions on changing passwords so she could move money out of his accounts. He advised her to always transfer less than $10,000 an apparent quest to not raise red flags and recruited his sister and another person to help.
The records also show that the second-degree murder charge was a big money-maker for Zimmerman: On the day of his arrest, contributions surpassed a $75,000 in a single day. He quickly paid off about $1,800 in bills and then after his release from jail spent nearly $5,000 in one day paying off Sams Club, Target and other credit cards, bank records show.
Ah man, that feels good, he said to his wife in a recorded phone call the day after his arrest. That there are people in America that care.
His wife told him so many contributions arrived to his online PayPal site on the day of his arrest that the site kept crashing.
People were just trying to give you, you know, words of support and kindness, Shellie Zimmerman said.
Good. Wow, that is awesome, he said.
Later he told her: Im so happy to know that youre gonna be okay.
His wife assured him, After this is all over, youre gonna be able to just, have a great life.
Zimmerman faces a second-degree murder charge for the Feb. 26 shooting of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed Miami Gardens teenager. Zimmerman claims that the teen punched him in an unprovoked attack. His nose broken and head slightly wounded, Zimmerman shot Trayvon once in the chest as the two wrestled on the grass.
For some, the case quickly became a symbol of the perils of racial profiling. For others, it epitomized the medias rush to judgment. After six weeks of controversy, Zimmerman was arrested by a specially appointed prosecutor, and became a hero to gun-rights advocates nationwide.
His arrest came about three days after he set up a website that sought donations. Records show that sympathizers offered such an outpouring of support that his credit union account, which had a $5 balance on April 1, swelled 27 days later to $128,898. The balance ballooned even after the couple paid off credit cards and frantically transferred funds out of the account.
The finances are critical, because at his bond hearing, Zimmerman and his family presented themselves as broke. Based on his lack of money and solid record cooperating with police, he was deemed a low flight risk and granted $150,000 bond.
His defense lawyer, Mark OMara, later revealed that Zimmerman actually was sitting on a small fortune. Zimmerman ultimately gave the $122,000 balance to his defense attorney to create a trust in his name.
But prosecutors probed the matter deeper, combing through PayPal and bank records and listening in on 151 phone calls to find out who controlled the website and whether Zimmerman was aware of how much had poured in.
OMara has since acknowledged that his client misled the court out of fear and mistrust. Bond was revoked, and another bond hearing will be held June 29.