Former James Brown trustee goes to jail

AIKEN - A former James Brown trustee accused of misappropriating millions of the late singer's money will spend the next six months in jail for not paying more than $400,000, as ordered by a court in 2007.

David Cannon was placed in the Aiken County jail after surrendering to police Feb. 11 afternoon for contempt of court.

Calls to Cannon's attorneys Feb. 12 were not returned.

For more than a year, Cannon, of Barnwell, has maintained that he does not have the financial means to pay the $433,000 -- $373,000 to Brown's estate, $50,000 for attorneys' fees and a $10,000 fine.

In December 2007, 2nd Judicial Circuit Judge Jack Early signed a court order finding Cannon in contempt for not only failing to pay the money but also for filing amended tax returns for James Brown Enterprises after he resigned as trustee and for not turning over financial documents dating to 1999, as ordered.

Early also said in his court order that he did not believe Cannon lacked the money to pay, based on his testimony earlier that year that he paid a contractor in Honduras $866,000 for construction of a home after resigning as trustee in August 2007.

The court order stated Cannon could avoid going to jail if he paid the money by Jan. 25, 2008. If not, he would begin serving a six-month jail sentence by noon of that day.

The South Carolina Court of Appeals intervened and granted a stay of enforcement of the six-month jail sentence on the condition Cannon obtain a bond in the amount of $433,000.

A Georgia bank issued Cannon a 12-month letter of credit that expired Feb. 11. The bank did not renew the letter of credit, and a petition filed with the court of appeals to extend the stay of enforcement was denied.

Cannon was one of three men James Brown designated to oversee his estate after he died. Cannon, Alfred Bradley and Buddy Dallas were to manage two trusts -- the James Brown "I Feel Good" trust to educate needy children and the James Brown family education trust to educate the entertainer's grandchildren.

The six heirs named in the late singer's legal will were to divide up his household belongings, but after their father's death on Christmas Day 2006, five of those heirs petitioned the court to have the trustees removed, claiming that they mismanaged the estate.

The three men resigned in 2007 but later retracted their resignations, saying the judge used "improper judicial influence" to intimidate them into quitting.

Cannon is well-known in Barnwell and has helped with numerous civic projects over the years in the community. Cannon was named Rotarian of the Year and was instrumental in a clean water project to help people in Honduras.


Aug. 10, 2007 -- David Cannon resigns as personal representative and trustee of the estate of James Brown and pays $350,000 to the estate. The court orders Cannon to turn over all financial documents dating back to 1999 within 15 days.

Aug. 16, 2007 -- Cannon pays $866,000 in cash to a contractor to build a home in Honduras, plus $223,000 to purchase the lot.

Sept. 24, 2007 -- Court holds Cannon in contempt for not turning over all financial documents. Cannon also was ordered to pay $373,000 to the estate within 10 days, and $30,000 as a deposit toward attorneys' fees.

Sept. 28, 2007 -- Attorneys for Cannon notify the court that their client would be unable to pay the $373,000.

Nov. 15 and Nov. 20, 2007 -- A hearing is held to determine whether Cannon should be held in contempt.

Dec. 18, 2007 -- Judge Jack Early finds Cannon in contempt and sentences him to six months in jail unless he pays $433,000 by Jan. 25, 2008.

Jan. 25, 2008 -- Cannon avoids jail when the South Carolina Court of Appeals grants a petition for a stay of enforcement of the jail sentence on the condition he obtain a bond in the amount of $433,000 while he appeals the contempt charge.

Feb. 11 -- Court of Appeals denies a request to extend the stay of enforcement, and a Georgia bank does not renew Cannon's letter of credit. Cannon surrenders to the Aiken County Sheriff's Office to begin a six-month jail sentence.