How much money has been raised by the George Zimmerman Defense Fund, and how has it been spent?
As of January 2, 2013, the George Zimmerman Defense Fund has raised $314,099.07.
The fund was established on May 3, 2012 with an initial deposit of $132,937.20, which came from George’s personal website. That means $181,161.87 has been raised since May 3, 2012. Here is a general accounting for how the funds have been spent as of January 2, 2013:
Bail Bond -- $95,000
On June 1, the Court revoked George’s bond and ordered him to return to custody within 48 hours. George surrendered himself for a second time on June 3, and waited in jail until July 5 when Judge Lester released George on $1,000,000 bail. Traditionally, a defendant out on bail pays a bail bondsman 10% of the bond, and provides collateral for the rest. George was unable to provide collateral for the difference, but because Mr. Zimmerman had established that he was not a flight risk, the defense team was able to arrange for special terms. George paid $5,000 with money raised before the establishment of the defense fund, and the defense fund paid $95,000.
Household/Living Expenses -- $61,747.54
If $61,747.54 sounds like a lot of money for living expenses for 8 months -- you are right. It’s more than most people earn in a year. Most of George’s living expenses for the first several months were allocated to providing a safe, secure place for George and his wife, Shellie, to live.
Until George’s bond was revoked on June 1, he was living in a mobile home, out of state. It was a very secure location, and the intent was for George to make that his primary residence until his trial, and there were some expenses incurred to ensure the home was suitable for George and his wife, (including $2,500 to run a phone line to the house so he could meet his court-ordered bond requirements).
When the Court set a second bond on July 5, one of the conditions was that George had to stay within Seminole County. George had to abandon the home that he set up out of state.
Once in Seminole County, George found finding a secure home difficult. The defense team worked hard to find someone willing to rent to George Zimmerman because there was a perceived liability associated with renting to him, and there was a concern that George would have to abandon that residence too, if circumstances were to change. During this time, George and Shellie lived in a series of modest hotels -- mostly two-room extended stay suites. This cost the Defense Fund several thousands per month.
By the end of September, acceptable living arrangements were made, and the rent is reasonable. With luck, and if the location of the home is not discovered by the public, George and Shellie should be able to remain there until trial.
Security -- $56,100.00
In the first months after Mr. Zimmerman’s arrest, his safety was an overriding concern. While direct specific threats were rare, the New Black Panther Party had placed a bounty on George, and criminals riddled a Sanford Police department vehicle parked at the entrance of George's residence. Threats of death or extreme physical violence were easy to find online. George could not risk moving about in public without someone to protect him, and his biggest fear is (and continues to be) that someone would recognize him, follow him home, and then reveal his address online.
The defense fund spent $40,000 for security in the three weeks following his July 5 release on bond. Additionally, the company that provided the security has filed a lawsuit against George, Shellie, and Mark O’Mara for an additional $27,000. George stopped using the firm in question shortly after the first three weeks.
The Defense Fund continues to provide money for security. The money spent on a monthly basis is a small fraction of what it used to be (in fact the sum of the money spent on security since July is a fraction of what was spent in the first weeks). The primary goal for the security is to ensure that when George leaves his house, no one follows him home with the intent of revealing his location or causing him or his family great bodily harm.
Law Firm Support and Infrastructure -- $40,647.64
Before taking the Zimmerman Case, the O’Mara Law Group was a small private practice that consisted of Mr. O’Mara, an associate attorney, and a support staff of three. The defense team includes co-counsel Don West, 6 interns, and additional support staff. Many of these people work for free or at a deeply discounted rate. Nonetheless, additional staff requires additional office space, more computers, new phones, expanded IT infrastructure and support, and more. Some of these expenses represent a one-time investment, some will be monthly recurring expenses until the case is complete.
Case Related Expenses -- $35,588.07
Case related expenses are items that the law firm paid for directly and for which the firm was reimbursed by the fund. Included in this sum are additional licenses for case management software, additional security for the law offices, website hosting, miscellaneous computer hardware and data storage, fees for obtaining documents, and much more. These funds were also used to pay for court recorders and experts on behalf of the defense.
PayPal and Fund Management Fees -- $7,924.22
PayPal takes a fee for every online payment the Defense Fund receives, and the independent fund manager bills monthly for their services.
Other Expenses -- $3,201.04
Other expenses include postage, courier fees, GPS monitoring, office supplies, and every now and again a pizza for the interns, who work for free.
The defense team feels that money spent in George's defense so far is reasonable. We have maximize economy for the next several months as we prepare for an immunity hearing and/or trial. We are aware at all times that the money we spend is your money, often donated at great personal sacrifice, and we thank you for your support.
George has selected a new fund manager and a new trust was established to fund his defense called the George Zimmerman Defense Fund Trust. All donations, including PayPal donations will go to this new trust, and the sum of $13,890.56 was transferred from the old trust to the new account.