Misuse of Brown money alleged

Special
Cannon

AIKEN - One of James Brown's former trustees narrowly avoided being held in contempt of court Monday, but David Cannon was warned not to sell off any of his assets amid allegations that he might have misappropriated millions of the late singer's money.

 

New accusations lodged against him Monday morning assert that he mishandled at least $7 million, charges that weren't answered during a lengthy court hearing in Aiken County.

Instead, Mr. Cannon is expected to testify in a hearing set for Nov. 15 to explain where the millions of dollars went that his former counterparts - the court-appointed attorneys and lawyers representing Mr. Brown's children - say is missing.

Mr. Cannon resigned last month from his position as one of three trustees settling Mr. Brown's estate after initial accusations surfaced. On Aug. 10, he repaid $350,000, but his attorneys said that he might not be able to pay another $400,000 the court ordered on Monday.

Mr. Cannon would not comment after the court hearing.

On Monday, Judge Jack Early ordered Mr. Cannon:

- Pay $370,000 within 10 days for a loan Mr. Brown received against his royalties.

- Give the court $30,000 within 20 days to possibly cover attorney fees incurred when he failed to comply with a court order to turn over financial and legal documents.

- Turn over personal and business financial records within 20 days.

- Deliver deeds and ownership documents for property he or his wife owns in South Carolina and Honduras, and for companies he owns.

Judge Early stopped short of freezing Mr. Cannon's assets, but did ban him from selling off property, saying that he was troubled by the allegations made Monday.

"That is a most serious belief that my special administrators have, and it concerns me greatly," Judge Early said.

Judge Early also gave the court-appointed attorneys, special administrators Adele Pope and Robert Buchanan, the OK to sue anyone against whom they have evidence of misappropriating estate assets.

Monday's hearing, which lasted about four hours, was attended by at least two-dozen attorneys, the remaining two estate trustees, Mr. Brown's children and disputed fourth wife and his newly discovered daughter, LaRhonda Petitt.

Neither Ms. Petitt nor Tomi Rae Hynie Brown had any major arguments presented in court, and the paternity of Mrs. Brown's son, James II, did not come up.

Since Mr. Brown's death on Christmas Day at age 73, his estate has been embroiled in court battles with children fighting to have the trustees removed, Mrs. Brown suing for a share of the estate and questions of James II's paternity coming up.

Neither Mrs. Brown nor James II were included in the singer's will. Nor was Ms. Petitt, who was only recently confirmed to be one of at least three children fathered by Mr. Brown out of wedlock.

Concerned that all the legal fighting would drain a trust Mr. Brown created to educate needy children in South Carolina and Georgia, the singer's minister, the Rev. Larry Fryer, filed to intervene on behalf of the children.

Judge Early has not yet ruled on that motion, but said Monday he is going to allow attorneys general offices in both South Carolina and Georgia to intervene as the law allows.

C.H. Jones Jr., the senior assistant attorney general for South Carolina, said they will watch over the trust and make sure it receives the money that is supposed to fund the schooling.

Reach Sandi Martin at (803) 648-1395, ext. 111, or sandi.martin@augustachronicle.com.