“I would have remembered $37,000,” he said. “I can’t imagine not remembering. It puts my credibility on the line.”
Critics have questioned O’Mara’s role in the plot, wondering whether he was duped by his client or if he misled the court.
Zimmerman’s wife testified at the first bond hearing that it was her brother-in-law who managed the online donations and she did not know how much money had been raised. But O’Mara did not call Wilson, who lives in Maryland, to testify.
In another jailhouse call, Zimmerman calls his wife, who is at a meeting with O’Mara and Zimmerman’s family. He mentions that the lawyer suggested he file for indigence, which would allow the state to pay his extra legal costs, such as hiring experts.
“I told him that we received some small contribution, and he said it doesn’t matter,” Zimmerman said. “No, it doesn’t,” Shellie replied. “He’s kind of talked about that.”
If a lawyer files a motion saying his client was indigent and knew otherwise, experts say he could be subject to serious reprimand, including suspension or disbarment. No complaint has been filed with the Florida Bar. The prosecutor, Assistant State Attorney Bernie de la Rionda, told the judge at Zimmerman’s second bond hearing that O’Mara acted as a responsible officer of the court when he reported the money Zimmerman had raised.
But the State Attorney’s office declined to comment Tuesday on whether De la Rionda had heard the jailhouse tape that seems to show the defense lawyer knew about his client’s money.
Miami attorney Andy Berman, who has represented lawyers in the past, said it “does not take much” to trigger a Florida Bar investigation.
“Without deciding there was any misrepresentation — speaking in theoretical terms — if he knew the guy was not indigent at the time he filed a motion saying he was indigent, he would be committing fraud, deceit and misrepresentation,” Berman said. “In a high-profile case like this one, it could get you suspended or disbarred.”
The jailhouse calls also show Zimmerman had no shortage of attorneys to choose from. He told his brother-in-law that a benefactor offered to pay his entire legal defense on the condition that the legal team include Jose Baez, the lawyer who represented accused child killer Casey Anthony, who was acquitted of murder.
Word of the offer came from Zimmerman’s neighbor, Frank Taaffe, who mentioned someone with the initials “S.H.” People watching the case closely believe S.H. to be Fox News talk show host Sean Hannity. The network denied Tuesday that Hannity ever offered to pay Zimmerman’s legal tab, and Taaffe won’t confirm the TV star’s involvement.
Taaffe told The Herald Tuesday that a high profile person called him saying they represented a group of people who wanted Baez to take the case.
Taaffe won’t say who the call was from or identify the group. Baez did not return a call for comment.
In many of the jailhouse calls, Zimmerman worried about the logistics of getting a court hearing to set his bail; but he also agonized over the details of finding a safe and secret location in which to live once he was released.
Fluent in Spanish, in one call he lamented to his sister that their parents did not give him a proper Hispanic name like “Jorge.” If America had understood he was Latino, he said, the entire ugly affair over the shooting death of Trayvon Martin could have been avoided.
Zimmerman is charged with second degree murder for the Feb. 26 killing of the Miami Gardens teenager. The charges came only after weeks of protests by civil rights activists, people who Zimmerman said wrongly believed him to be “white.”
After Zimmerman was first arrested, on April 12, he complained several times that he had not received his anti-anxiety medication.
“I don’t want to think about not having my anxiety medicine because that will give me anxiety,” Zimmerman told his sister.