Originally created 05/27/98

Premature son of defendant may delay suit



AIKEN -- A son born prematurely to former New Ellenton Mayor Randy Shaw and his wife, Donna, in Macon, Ga., could delay the trial in a civil defamation lawsuit involving the town's sewer scandal.

Attorney Henderson Johnson is asking Circuit Judge William Keesley to grant a continuance in the trial tentatively set for the court term beginning June 8. Court officials have estimated the trial will take three to four days.

In a letter filed in Aiken Court of Common Pleas on Tuesday, Mr. Johnson stated that the Shaws' newborn is expected to remain in the neonatal care unit of a Macon hospital until July.

Dillon Shaw was born April 14, about three months premature, according to a May 22 affidavit from Mrs. Shaw and a May 19 letter from the treating physician, Mitch Rodriguez, of Coliseum Medical Center in Macon.

Dr. Rodriguez states in his letter that Dillon might not be able to travel with his parents "until September to December 1998 or possibly longer depending on his medical condition."

The Shaws were among nine defendants sued in 1996 by businessman Louis Whitlaw, who claims there was a civil conspiracy to blame him for the embezzlement of funds from $5.2 million in sewer revenues loaned by the state in 1990.

The sewer bond was intended to build a sewer system but instead over the past years has spawned lawsuit after lawsuit, including Mr. Whitlaw's. The sewer system is about 40 percent completed.

Mr. Shaw pleaded guilty to federal and state charges in connection with the theft of sewer revenues and served a 24-month federal prison term. He served part of his sentence at a halfway house in Macon, where he also worked for his brother Richard at a manufacturing plant in that city.

In addition to the Shaws, Mr. Whitlaw named as defendants: former town attorney John Harte, Richard Shaw, the former mayor's aunt and former town treasurer, Lyn Jeancake, the former New Ellenton Insurance Agency, former town engineer G.E. "Pete"Cantelou, Cantelou and Associates and Cedar Creek Properties.

Mr. Harte was dismissed as a defendant but the dismissal is on appeal.