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Lawyer Says His Longtime Secretary Is the Informant Who Secretly Recorded Him

Posted Oct 4, 2010 6:00 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A secretary who testified for a Georgia lawyer accused of federal drug and money-laundering charges, helping win his acquittal last year, apparently had a change of heart.

The secretary, Brandy Rivera, became a secret informant, says her onetime boss, lawyer Mark Shelnutt. And Shelnutt was the target, according to the Fulton County Daily Report. He now faces state charges of distribution of a controlled substance—allegedly for giving Rivera 12 prescription pills for pain and anxiety. The meds included Percocet and Xanax, and were handed out one or two at a time, on seven different occasions, according to warrants issued by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

Shelnutt told the Fulton County Daily Report that Rivera became an informant after she went to work for a new boss—a former associate at Shelnutt’s firm who became the district attorney in Muscogee County. While Rivera worked for the district attorney, she continued to work part-time work for Shelnutt, and that’s when she secretly recorded him, usually over lunch, Shelnutt says.

Shelnutt says Rivera had worked for him for eight years. “She was family,” he told the publication. He says he had loaned Rivera a down payment for her car and had co-signed for the loan. The day before his arrest, Shelnutt says, Rivera asked him for a birthday present he had promised her.

Shelnutt was acquitted last year on charges that he was connected to a client’s cocaine distribution operation. Jurors found Shelnutt not guilty on all 36 counts, including charges of money laundering and aiding a drug conspiracy.

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