Woman Charged with Felonies for Depositing Husband’s Checks
The story of Columbus Municipal Judge Nicole Clinkscales issuing a $2 bond has become fodder for bloggers and radio talk-shows statewide, but the woman who was issued the bond says there’s much more to the story. La Freda Williams was arrested by Columbus Police last week and charged with two felony counts of Uttering Forgery, a charge commonly associated with either writing bad checks or forging a signature on a check.
Williams (her legal last name is still Brown) was charged with the felonies by the Columbus Police Department after she claims she deposited two checks made out to her husband into their joint checking account while he was incarcerated at the Lowndes County Adult Detention Center (LCADC). Williams’s husband, Anthony Brown, was arrested in February for a probation violation and was released last week after a grand jury “no billed” his case (meaning he may be charged in the case at a later date). Brown reportedly filed the charges against his wife shortly after he was released from jail. The couple had become estranged after Brown was brought to jail based, in part, on a witness statement made by Williams against him.
Williams said that she did sign and deposit two checks that were made out to her husband into their joint checking account, as she claims she had done several times in the past. She said that her husband had called her from LCADC and instructed her to cash his paycheck (from Sanderson Plumbing) and then put some of the money into his inmate account. Williams thinks that the check was for $101.46. The second check, according to Williams, was some sort of insurance check.
“We had done the exact same thing before he went to jail – many, many, many times – and I’m trying to get the copy of the recording of the call from the jail now…I know they record all of their calls,” Williams said.
Williams assumes that Brown got upset after she failed to put some of the money in his inmate account: “He had told me that he wished he could do more to help. I needed every penny for bills, so I didn’t have any left for his inmate account…I think he just filed charges to humiliate me.”
Williams said that she believes Judge Clinkscales set the bond so low because Clinkscales saw the circumstances and made a common-sense decision. Williams was originally issued a recognizance bond, but the bond amount had to be changed to $2 ($1 per charge) because a dollar amount must be set on all felony charges. Williams was released from LCADC after paying a $25 “lock-up fee.”
News of the low bond was picked up by Associated Press outlets across Mississippi and west Alabama after a short piece in the Commercial Dispatch last Friday. Several radio talk shows, including “The JT show” on Supertalk Radio, read the story and debated the merit of such a low bond.
“Nobody called me to ask what happened, nobody from any of the news places,” Williams said. “Judges Clinkscales saw the situation and I think she made a good decision setting the bond so low.”
Several commentators on links to the story speculated that Williams must have had connections or relationships with the judge or other higher-ups in city government. “I wish I knew them, but I didn’t even recognize the judge when I was standing next to her in the hall,” Williams said.
“I know he’s upset, but we are married and both of our names are on the account. I’ve heard from a lot of folks who do the exact same thing. I just got arrested for it. I know I can still hold my head up high,” Williams said.
Judge Clinkscales did not return multiple phone calls to either her city or private office this week. No one answered at a listed number in Columbus for Anthony Brown on Wednesday afternoon.
Wlliams’s court date is set for November 1 in front of Judge Clinkscales.0