Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

March 23, 2009

Marriott trial ends in 99-year sentence

Jurors deliberated for more than three hours Monday

By Janet Jacobs

A Navarro County jury gave Kandy Marriott 99 years in prison and a $10,000 fine Monday for engaging in organized crime. Kandy Marriott stood quietly as the verdict was read by the judge, but her husband, Lynn Marriott, began shouting and after trying to shrug off police officers, he was handcuffed and led out of the room, as their son, Darrell Marriott screamed “We’re going to be OK. We’re going to be OK.”

After his father was taken from the courtroom, Darrell hugged his mother over the railing. He continued to assure her it would be OK and that he loved her, and she told him “it was a satan.”

Visiting Judge Robert Dohoney of Lake Whitney pronounced the sentence and remanded Kandy Marriott to the custody of the sheriff’s office.

Jurors deliberated behind closed doors for more than three hours Monday before arriving at the sentence. Afterwards, lead juror Gary Douglas said it was a very difficult case, and in the end, it was either compromise or have a hung jury. “So we compromised,” he said.

The other alternatives were to give her life in prison, or probation.

Under the terms given by the judge, Kandy Marriott will have to serve at least a quarter of the sentence before she becomes eligible for parole. Her defense attorney, Ed Mason, had asked for probation for his client.

Marriott was convicted of misusing 18 checks written to David Martin, her husband’s partner, in various businesses the two shared, including Dickey’s Barbecue in Corsicana, and the Huddle House in Gun Barrel City.

The state’s prosecuting attorney, David Glickler, with the Texas Attorney General’s Office, argued successfully that Marriott or someone under her control forged Martin’s name and deposited the checks into other businesses’ accounts, and that she ultimately benefited.

Marriott’s defense attorney, Ed Mason, argued that Kandy Marriott wasn’t a partner and didn’t do the forgeries, and wasn’t in control of the machinations going on behind the scenes of the intertwined businesses. Lynn Marriott, Kandy Marriott’s husband, has also been indicted on the same charges of engaging in organized crime, but he has pleaded that he is unable to stand trial because of mental instability.

In closing arguments, the state’s attorneys painted a picture of greed and excess in the Marriott family that led them to do anything, including falsify documents and forge checks, to achieve their ends.

They had dollar signs at their gate, and by the pool, and their children drove luxury cars, said Shane Attaway, assistant attorney general. “Anything to feed the greed,” Attaway told the jury.

David Martin, who filed the original charges against the Marriotts, said afterwards that he was satisfied with the verdict.

“They had a duty and they did it,” he said.

In his closing arguments, defense attorney Ed Mason told the jury that the Marriotts didn’t steal from Martin with the 18 checks that were forged and deposited in various accounts, but were merely paying off creditors.

“This (forging checks) was a device, a silly, stupid device, to get these people paid,” he said.

David Glickler with the Texas Attorney General’s office, who was brought in to try the cases, implied that Marriott was at least partly to blame for the nation’s current financial crisis, arguing that the Marriotts had lied and falsified documents on mortgages, costing the country about $4 million, which her defense attorney denied. Mason blamed sub-prime mortgages, bankers and lax government regulators for the losses.

Glickler asked the jury to deliver the maximum sentence to Marriott, saying that it is “what she has spent a lifetime earning.”

“When do you give someone a life sentence?” Glickler asked the jury. “When 99 years isn’t enough.”

In 2003 and 2004, the Marriotts and Martins became partners in not only the deals to open the restaurants, but also to build and sell mobile homes through One Way Home and Land. The forged checks were part of Martin’s proceeds from the home sales. Together, they also owned the VF Factory Outlet mall, and the former KMart building, now Cornerstone Baptist Church. All the properties have since been sold to other owners, and One Way has gone out of business.

The case was a big one for the Corsicana Police Department, and on Monday Chief Administrator Randy Bratton congratulated Sgt. Mark Nanny for his work on the case.

“Nanny quickly discovered a link between the Marriott’s fraud on their investor and a broader, wider scheme of perpetrating mortgage fraud on the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Working jointly with Special Agent Tammy Gilbert of HUD’s Office of Inspector General, the investigators spent three years reviewing documents obtained through search warrants, grand jury subpoenas, and internal agency requests,” Bratton stated in a press release Monday afternoon.

“Sgt. Nanny and Special Agent Gilbert were able to document numerous instances where the defendant or someone under her control illegally forged home buyers’ signatures, inaccurately completed loan applications, and falsified supporting documents, including the buyers’ rent payment verification statements, proof of employment, and Social Security Administration benefits data, among other items. Evidence in the trial showed that the defendants’ conduct was intended to ensure that unqualified home buyers’ loans were approved by mortgage lenders. Subsequently, more than 40% of the Marriott’s customers were foreclosed on, leading to the loss of over $4 million of federal taxpayer dollars when HUD was required to pay the lender for the loss, having insured the loan in the first place,” Bratton stated.

The case, which took 11 days to hear, is only the first in a series of cases being brought against the Marriotts, according to Glickler.

“We still have one against Lynn (Marriott) for the charge Kandy was just convicted on, and three related to mortgage fraud,” he said. Of those indictments, three are in Navarro County, and 11 in Kaufman County, Glickler said.

The cases in Kaufman County include not just Lynn and Kandy, but also Kandy’s sister, Karen Hayes; and Kali Marriott, the daughter of Kandy and Lynn Marriott. Although a hearing on Lynn’s competence to stand trial could take place in the next few weeks, a trial isn’t expected before the summer, Glickler said.

“(Lynn) looked pretty competent to me when he was lashing out at everybody,” Glickler said. “He seemed aware of what was going on and able to communicate appropriately.”

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