Don Fillers, who is due to go into federal prison on Friday to start serving a four-year sentence in an asbestos case, still has a taxpayer-paid attorney though documents were presented in court showing he had purchased $2,479,601 in property and valued his house on North Crest Road at $403,000.
Federal Magistrate Judge Bill Carter said there were still unanswered questions about the Fillers finances and he set another hearing for next Tuesday.
Prosecutor Matthew Morris of Knoxville said, "There are lots of indications that the defendant has the wherewithal to pay for his own attorney."
He said in looking over the Fillers finances "I was struck with the fact, if not Mr. Fillers, then who can afford an attorney?"
The new Fillers attorney, Kyle Headrick, said there are $1.85 million in mortgages against the property, and he said the income it brings in goes for upkeep and other expenses. He said $207,400 is owed on the residence.
Attorney Headrick said Fillers, 64, has not gotten any pay from his Chattanooga Hardwood Company since 2009.
Magistrate Judge Carter noted that Fillers still owes some $31,000 to attorney Leslie Cory, plus a bill to attorney Marty Levitt.
Fillers took all of his property out of his name during the pendency of the case involving a shoddy cleanup of asbestos at the old Standard Coosa Thatcher plant. The $2.47 million in property - before the quitclaim deed - included one piece that was in his wife's name, some in both their names and some in his name. Now they are all under the name Jackie Fillers.
Chief Judge Curtis Collier ruled recently that Fillers would have to begin serving his prison time during his appeal. Attorney Headrick said he will ask Judge Collier to let him stay out until the legal brief in the case is filed. He said he needs Fillers close at hand to provide information on the complex case that involved a lengthy trial and sentencing hearing.
Attorney Headrick said, "This is a monumental case, and I know nothing about this case."