Trial gets underway for 74-year-old San Augustine Co. grandmother accused of fraud

Trial gets underway for 74-year-old San Augustine Co. grandmother accused of fraud

SAN AUGUSTINE, TX (KTRE) - Testimony started Monday in the trial of a 74-year-old San Augustine grandmother accused of fraud in connection to a warranty deed that was not executed properly when she and her cousin attempted to reorganize a church that sits on their grandparents' land back in 2011.

Margie Coffee was indicted on a felony filing a fraudulent document charge in 2012.

The saga all started in August of 2011 when Coffee and Betty Clark, her cousin, decided to re-organize a church that sits on their grandparents' land.

However, thing soon turned sour between the two in just a matter of months, which resulted in Clark leaving the church in December of that year. What transpired between the two ladies between August 2011 and December 2011 is what is being debated.

Around 1:30 p.m. Monday, the trial began with Clark taking the stand in Judge Craig Mixon's court. Clark told District Attorney Kevin J. Dutton that the two cousin were close.

Things didn't unravel until the interim preacher, Shawn Husband, decided to take things over. Clark repeatedly said on the stand that she didn't like the way Husband was conducting himself.

His demanding ways were not lining up with the churches bylaws. Instead of looking for a new preacher,Clark decided the best option was to give a check to Coffee so they could go their separate ways. Coffee did not want the money but instead asked Clark to hand over the church records.

Clark had been the church's treasurer since 2007. Clark said she never abandoned the church. She continued to pay the light bills and clean the church until she was locked out.

In 2012, the church was re-named and the deed was updated. During this time, Coffee and others reached out for legal advice on how things should be done. Ryan Deaton, Coffee's defense attorney, pointed out that in the deed left by the ladies' grandparents there were no bylaws and that Clark created the bylaws herself.

After an hour of testimony, Clark stepped down from the stand. Soon after, two additional witnesses were called to the stand. The trial will reconvene Tuesday morning. Coffee is facing felony charges and if convicted she could be facing two years in prison.

Copyright 2014 KTRE. All rights reserved.