UPDATE: Halle Berry's Publicist Says Actress Has No Affiliation With Local Charity Group
Updated Wednesday, July 11, 2012 at 8:40 a.m. CDT
Meredith O'Sullivan of 42West, the company which handles Halle Berry's publicity, replied to questions about the charity event in a statement:
"I assume you are contacting me about Halle and the event that is falsely using her name? Please note that Halle has never had any contact or affiliation with that organization or event. They, in no way, were authorized to use her name."
By KENNETH DEAN
The Smith County District Attorney's Office is recommending the founder and CEO of the Tyler nonprofit organization Sisters in Christ be sentenced to one year in a state jail facility.
District Attorney Matt Bingham said Tuesday his office is making the recommendation to State District 114 Judge Jack Skeen Jr. that Denetrius Michelle Johnson be sentenced to one year if she enters a guilty plea next week.
However, Bingham told the Tyler Morning Telegraph if his office must try the case then it will recommend Ms. Johnson, who is accused of writing hot checks totaling $19,087.07 in Smith County since 1987, face the maximum penalty of 24 months in a state jail facility. State jail felons must serve their full sentence.
The latest case revolves around an April 27, 2009, check written by Ms. Johnson for $1,725.82. She was indicted earlier this year.
Bingham said there were numerous cases on Ms. Johnson dating back to 1987, and some of the cases had overlapped.
Bingham answered questions from the newspaper only after learning Ms. Johnson had said publicly that she and the district attorney had come to an agreement, and she would be allowed to pay restitution in the case.
"She has a history of theft by check cases and has been jailed several times. She would not be eligible for a payment plan because of that history," he said.
A grand jury indicted Ms. Johnson in April, and she was arrested June 13 on the felony theft charge.
Ms. Johnson told the newspaper last week the case was taken care of, and she would pay all the money back after a charity event in which Academy Award winning actress Halle Berry was billed as the big draw.
Berry's Hollywood representatives have repeatedly denied the star would be appearing in Tyler and on Monday Barney Slobodin, Office of Matt DelPiano/Creative Artists Agency, Berry's agent, said the star was busy filming a movie.
"Ms. Berry's new movie just began filming last week, and it would be highly unlikely for a star to leave in the first week of production," he said.
Ms. Berry's publicists at 42West said they did not have her scheduled to appear in Texas and reiterated the star was busy filming the thriller "The Hive" in Los Angeles.
Ms. Johnson's Sisters in Christ have heralded the star and others would appear at a weekend charity golf event at the Cascades Golf Club this weekend to help renovate the Tysen House on East Erwin Street.
Sisters in Christ, an IRS 501c3 charity, donated the building in November last year and Ms. Johnson said early bids show the renovations could cost several million dollars.
Ms. Johnson said the charity golf event was part of a $10 million campaign fund, and she hoped to raise $3 million during the weekend.
But two of Tyler's largest charity events, Cattle Barons and the Komen Race for the Cure, together fetch less than $1 million per year and require hundreds of volunteers and sponsorships from some of Tyler's largest employers.
Cascade representatives said Sisters in Christ must meet monetary obligations today or the event would be canceled at the club.
Ms. Johnson said last week her theft-by-check problems were misunderstandings and that she simply had a hard time balancing a checkbook.
Bingham outlined some of the cases against Ms. Johnson where she served time in the Smith County Jail.
In 1998, she was convicted of theft by check and was sentenced to probation, but Bingham said she failed to report to her probation officer and did not make restitution, so she was confined for 170 days in 2000.
In a 2001 theft by check case, the judge sentenced Ms. Johnson to another 170 days behind bars.
Bingham's office said Ms. Johnson has never paid back all of the restitution owed and currently owes $16,135.82 in restitution, fines and court fees.
"This is more than simply not balancing your checkbook, and it spans 25 years," said an assistant district attorney who works hot checks cases.
Attempts to reach Ms. Johnson by phone Tuesday were unsuccessful as were trips to her home and the Sister in Christ headquarters on West Oakwood Street.