David Cannon, 72, of Barnwell, S.C., entered an Alford plea before Circuit Judge George James to two counts of breach of trust, The Aiken Standard reported Friday. The plea does not admit guilt but acknowledges there is enough evidence for a conviction.
Brown died Christmas Day 2006.
Cannon said in court Thursday that although he did nothing wrong, he realized a jury would likely find him guilty.
“James Brown was a very difficult man to do business with. He was the boss,” Cannon said. “I loved James Brown. I loved him like a brother, and he loved me. I know I respected him, and he respected me. I know that he knows – he knew – that I’d never take a dime from him.”
Brown’s daughter Deanna Brown Thomas, however, expressed a different opinion. Cannon maintains a home in Honduras that he likely had constructed with her father’s money, she told The Augusta Chronicle.
“He’s the one who had the power of the pen,” she said. Cannon “held up the progress of what James Brown wanted to do.”
Prosecutors said Cannon was supposed to receive 5 percent of whatever Brown made in a year but instead gave himself close to 15 percent.
Cannon was also accused of stealing part of a $900,000 check, but his defense attorneys said that was a misunderstanding.
Cannon received the check with instructions to disburse it to people to whom Brown owed money, and Cannon was among them, said his attorney, Sherri Lydon. It was later determined that money came from Brown’s royalties and should have been spent differently, but Cannon didn’t know that at the time.
Cannon’s attorneys said Brown sometimes told Cannon to take more money, but such verbal agreements couldn’t be proved after Brown died.