Columbus attorney Mark Shelnutt, indicted May 21 on 40 counts including money laundering, was given a $50,000 bond — to be paid in full — when he appeared in U.S. District Court today.
Shelnutt, who was advised of his rights by U.S. Magistrate G. Mallon Faircloth, pleaded not guilty to the charges. He’s previously denied any wrongdoing.
“Looking forward to our day in court,” Shelnutt said after making his bond.
His attorney, Thomas Withers, agreed. “We’re going to plan on trying our case in the court, not the press,” he said.
U.S. Assistant Attorney Carlton Bourne Jr. recommended that Shelnutt be released on a $50,000 bond, with only a percentage of that paid. Shelnutt’s attorney, Thomas Withers, asked for Shelnutt’s release on his own recognizance.
“This is a case of 40 counts of very serious felony charges,” Faircloth said. “I’m setting a bond at $50,000, fully secured.”
The magistrate added that both he and U.S. District Court Judge Clay Land would treat Shelnutt’s case the same as any other case that comes before them.
Faircloth also ordered Shelnutt’s passport, which is expired, be handed over to the court. Shelnutt wasn’t allowed to leave the courthouse until friends and family got the bond money and retrieved the passport, which occurred about two hours after his hearing began.
Shelnutt is accused of aiding and abetting a conspiracy to distribute cocaine, money laundering, witness tampering and attempted bribery. The indictment alleges a connection between Shelnutt and convicted drug dealer Torrance Hill, whom Shelnutt represented and who pleaded guilty in federal court in December 2006. Hill was sentenced in February 2007 to 24 1/2 years in prison.