A modified sentence for Newnan accountant Mayo Royal Jr. was denied Monday.
In February 2012, Royal was sentenced to serve five years in prison and five years on probation after he pleaded guilty to seven counts of theft by taking and one count of false swearing in connection with Royal’s mismanagement of the estate of the late Edgar B. Hollis.
The terms of the sentence ordered Royal to serve five years on probation prior to serving any prison time. However, Royal was ordered to make restitution to the amount of $200,000.
After paying off the restitution, Royal asked that his prison sentence be modified, according to District Attorney Pete Skandalakis.
Witnesses testified on his behalf, and Skandalakis called two witnesses from the Newnan-Coweta Historical Society. Attorneys for Royal called for straight probation or a modified sentence, thereby avoiding prison time altogether.
On Monday, Judge Travis Sakrison denied the motion from the defense and ordered the plea agreement to be enforced. Royal will report to the Coweta County Jail on June 1, 2017 to begin serving his five-year prison sentence, according to Skandalakis.
Former Newnan resident Edgar Baldwin Hollis died on June 17, 2006. In his will, Hollis bequeathed a home he owned at 32 Nimmons St. to the city of Newnan, with a request that the residence be used as a museum if possible. The will bequeathed funds for operating the museum.
Royal – who had been performing some of Hollis’ personal accounting services – was named executor of the Hollis estate and presented the offer of the home to the city. The will permitted Royal to pay his accounting firm “reasonable compensation” for its services.
After lengthy study and consideration of the cost to restore the home and maintain it as a museum, the city of Newnan declined the offer of the home.
The will also stated that “in the event the City of Newnan is unable or unwilling to accept this bequest… it shall pass to the Newnan-Coweta Historical Society, its successor, or a comparable charitable entity.”
In the ensuing months, Royal made bequests to both the city of Newnan and the Coweta Community Foundation. The city of Newnan returned the sum of $150,000 in July 2009, but civil suits from other interested parties followed.
In January 2009, Fred Blackwell, the trustee of a testamentary trust that was listed as a beneficiary of the last will and testament of Hollis, filed a civil action in which he sought an accounting of the Hollis estate, the removal of Royal as executor and damages resulting from Royal’s purported breach of his fiduciary duty.
In 2009 the Newnan-Coweta Historical Society filed suit, claiming that the funds from the Hollis estate should rightfully have gone to the society. Some of the funds had already been distributed from the Hollis estate by Royal to the Coweta Community Foundation, which later returned the funds as part of the settlement process.
Following Royal’s resignation in May 2009 from the post he had held since August 2006, the Probate Court of Coweta County appointed local attorney Robert Hancock as temporary administrator of the Hollis estate, and, in December 2009, the court granted the estate’s motion to intervene.
In 2009 Coweta County Superior Court Judge William F. Lee ruled in a judgment against Royal in a related civil case that was partially upheld and partially overturned by the Georgia Supreme Court in 2010.
In originally granting the motions in favor of Blackwell and Hancock, the court found that Royal had breached repeatedly the fiduciary duty he owed the estate and that those breaches supported an award of damages to Blackwell and the Hollis Estate and a forfeiture of any compensation paid to Royal as executor.
In September 2011, Royal was indicted by a Coweta County grand jury on seven counts of theft by taking and one count of false swearing for alleged activities regarding his handling of the Hollis Estate.
It was alleged that after becoming executor of the Hollis estate, Royal began paying himself $2,500 per month for accounting services, a much greater sum than the $225 per month Royal had allegedly been charging before Hollis’ death.
In addition to allegedly charging excessive amounts for administering the Hollis estate, Royal was also alleged to have made improper investments of estate funds, including the purchase of a condominium in Seagrove Beach, Fla., in the name of the Hollis Trust at a cost of $520,000.
It is also alleged that Royal never filed any estate tax or income tax returns on behalf of the estate with the Internal Revenue Service or the Georgia Department of Labor.
Clay Neely: firstname.lastname@example.org, @clayneely