|Corrigan Times - Local News
Copyright 2013 - Polk County Publishing Company
Verdicts spilt in Pounders trial
BY VALERIE REDDELL
LIVINGSTON — A Polk County jury found Michael Pounders guilty of one count of forgery in a two count indictment Thursday and not guilty of the second count. District Judge Kaycee Jones also dismissed a misdemeanor charge of criminal mischief Thursday. Defense attorney Tom Brown said he is gratifi ed that his client was vindicated on two of three charges and he understands how the jury arrived at the verdict they did on the third charge. The case stems from an insurance claim that Michael Pounders fi led on two houses he owned that were damaged by Hurricane Ike in 2008. One of the houses was his primary residence on Mockingbird Lane and a second house was a rental property on the lake. When State Farm Insurance Company paid the claim, it was made out to Mike and the lienholders, Grover and Merna Bridgeman. Brown said when the fi rst claim check came in, Pounders took it over to the Bridgemans and they endorsed it and Michael when about the business of making repairs. When the next check came in, Pounders called the Bridgmens and they gave verbal permission for him to endorse the check and deposit it in the bank. The check cleared the bank and there was no problem. Brown said a later claim was paid and it involved damage to an air-conditioning unit on the rental property at the lake. Pounders didn't call the Bridgmans. "He mistakenly believed they had established a procedure. He endorsed the check and took it to the bank," Brown said. Assistant District Attorney Beverly Armstrong said when the check got to the bank, an employee noticed an irregularity in the signature and called the Bridgemans. The Bridgemans came to the bank and signed their names. "You can see their names appear on the back of the check twice," Armstrong said. Ultimately the lienholders ended up foreclosing on both properties and they attempted to fi le an insurance claim, but the claims were denied since they had already been paid. When they saw the signatures on the back of the checks for the claims related to the house on Mockingbird Lane, they reported those to police. But, the jury found Pounders guilty for the check he wrote for the rental property on the lake. Brown said Judge Kaycee Jones dismissed the misdemeanor criminal mischief charge because there was no evidence an offense occurred. "The lienholders were trying to collect for damages that occurred while the Pounders were owners," Brown said. Sentencing is set for late August, attorneys said. Michael Pounders' estranged wife, Taffi Pounders, still faces charges of tampering with evidence and forgery. She will be tried separately and is being represented by Travis E. Kitchens Jr.