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Bond reduced but Albrecht still jailed

STORY BY MEG LAUGHLIN, (Week of June 6, 2013)
Photo: Gina Albrecht with lawyer Bobby Guttridge at bond hearing.

Gina Albrecht, facing a variety of charges in the death of 81-year-old barrier island resident George May, shuffled into criminal court in a red-orange jail uniform and shackles last Thursday to ask for reduced bond so she could go home with husband Ryan and their two daughters.

Albrecht, 36, is charged with aggravated manslaughter, elderly abuse, fraud and forgery in the death of May, who, police say, died of starvation and dehydration after being left alone in his home in Marbrisa while in her care. The medical examiner ruled the death a homicide.

While Judge Robert L. Pegg reduced Albrecht’s bond from $205,000 to $155,000, she remained jailed at press time.

As more and more information was divulged by Ryan Albrecht and Gina Albrecht’s defense attorney Bobby Guttridge, as well as prosecutors, at last week’s bond hearing, Judge Pegg repeatedly warned, “We are not going to spend the whole morning trying this case.”

The trial itself is not likely to take place for months.  But the reasons given for the bond reduction request likely foreshadow what will be Albrecht’s defense strategy when the case finally does come to trial.

Even though Gina and her husband lived with May until shortly before his death in late October, 2012, Ryan Albrecht told the Court his wife had not worked as a certified nursing assistant for May after she quit her job with Nightingale Private Duty Nursing in late June, 2011.

His statement contradicted a handwritten list entered in evidence, which Gina allegedly prepared, estimating her income for working for May for a year to be $104,832.

Above the amount are the handwritten words: “Started working for George in exchange for estate.”

Nevertheless, the husband’s denial that Gina worked for May after late June, 2011 appeared to be an attempt to distance her from responsibility for May’s well-being.

Ryan Albrecht also said neither he nor his wife would inherit George May’s estate, which contradicted the probate claim the two of them had filed in an attempt to inherit the estate.

Backing away from seeking to gain the remainder of May’s money and his Marbrisa home would seem an attempt to undercut the prosecution’s position that Albrecht stood to gain from May’s death. 

Guttridge also told the court that in August 2012, when May was being sent home after six weeks in residence at a rehab center, Albrecht told the center she couldn’t care for him at home because she had to care for her two children.  His point: Albrecht had let it be known three months before May’s death that she was not responsible for him.

She and her family, however, continued to live with May after his release from the rehab center. 

Ryan Albrecht also told the court that he and his wife had not had an income for two years – despite the fact that more than $200,000 was missing from May’s accounts – and said they could not afford the current bond of $205,000. 

Ryan said a doctor at New Horizons had declared him bi-polar and disabled, but he said he had never been declared legally disabled and had no government income from that.

They got some financial help from Gina’s parents, he said, and added that he would soon inherit his father’s estate, which would help him meet the bond payment if it were reduced.

Guttridge asked that Albrecht’s bond be reduced by $130,000 to $75,000. But Pegg was only willing to reduce it by $50,000, and the Albrechts still will have to pay $15,500 in cash, which would not be returned, and come up with $155,000 in collateral for her to get out on bail.

If bond money and collateral are produced, it is unclear what the source will be.

Gina and Ryan Albrecht declared bankruptcy in 2007 because of over $150,000 in credit card debt. In 2009, Gina’s parents, Bill and Arlene Albrecht, also declared bankruptcy because of credit card debt over $150,000.