South Carolina Circuit Court Judge Knox McMahon ordered David Cannon to pay restitution for embezzling money from the mismanaged estate. Of the $12 million that Cannon earned working for Brown, $7.7 million of the earnings – which Cannon claimed was valid – was disputed.
Cannon, of Barnwell, S.C., told the court he couldn’t afford to repay the trust, testimony the court found lacked credibility. He paid $875,000 in cash for a seaside mansion in Roatan, an island off the coast of Honduras, shortly after resigning in August 2007. Cannon testified that $600,000 was donated to charity, without accounting for the rest of his earnings.
The value of the mansion, which has an equitable lien against it, and Cannon’s interest in Geronimo Music LLC – a music publishing company founded by Brown and several of his associates – had not been determined when the restitution order was written April 23. The state and the defendant were given 30 days to calculate the value.
Cannon was also barred from any future earnings he might receive from the estate.
Without repayment, “the financial resources of the James Brown Trust are bleak and teetering on collapse,” according to the order.
Deanna Brown-Thomas, daughter of the late musician, said the court-ordered restitution will help restore some of her father’s earnings that were mismanaged after his death.
“This is some justice for dad,” she said. “He’s the one who worked hard for this money.”
Brown died on Christmas Day 2006. Six years earlier, he had signed an irrevocable trust and last will and testament designating almost all of his fortune to the education of underprivileged children in South Carolina and Georgia. Cannon, Buddy Dallas and Alfred Bradley were named trustees, which Brown family members have fought in court.
In 2011, Cannon was sentenced to three years of home confinement on charges that he took more money from Brown than his contracts allowed. He entered an Alford plea, which does not admit guilt but acknowledges there is enough evidence for conviction.
Cannon spent three months in the Aiken County Detention Center in 2009 for failing to pay more than $400,000, as ordered by a judge two years earlier, after accusations he misappropriated Brown’s money.