Dad got none of son's estate

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A Lewisburg woman, whose son died in a 2005 crash at Jacksonville, Fla., pleaded guilty last week on felony theft charges for not sharing insurance payments with the boy's father.

Victor Pigg "never came around" while their son, Wesley, was alive - didn't even attend his funeral, Billie Jo Bryant, 53, of Nashville Highway said when asked if the father should get some of what the policies paid out, according to court records.

Nearly $97,500 was paid for Wesley Pigg's death by policies held by the driver, the vehicle's owner and Bryant, according to Marshall County Sheriff's Detective Capt. Norman Dalton.

"Her theory was that the son's father owed her back child support, so she felt like he didn't deserve any of it and she went on several vacations to Jamaica," Dalton said Monday. "She cleaned out the estate."

However, the father complained and Bryant was named in a 10-count indictment issued by the Marshall County Grand Jury in December 2008. Victor Pigg lives in Fayetteville.

An estate's administrator can pay child support owed by a father to a mother with insurance claim funds, but a court must approve it.

Faced with a three-pound, seven-inch-thick case file and a scheduled jury trial, Bryant pleaded guilty Nov. 25 in Shelbyville where Judge Robert Crigler was advised what Assistant District Attorney Eddie Barnard intended to prove if the case went to trial.

Checks totaling some $64,000 were part of the state's case, showing that Bryant spent thousands of dollars on products and services from Half Moon in Montego Bay, Doctors Cave, Jamaica Air and other businesses.

Bryant entered an "open plea" to the indictments, meaning she's not resisting the charges and knows she will hear the state's recommended sentence on Feb. 17. By then, Judge Crigler will have received a pre-sentence report. Research for that began Tuesday by parole and probation officers.

Bryant's case file indicates that she: loaned $14,000 to co-workers who'd not repaid her; paid nearly $6,900 for a funeral and headstone for her son who died Oct. 9, 2005; was removed as administrator of her son's estate on Jan. 22, 2008, due to "misappropriation" of estate funds; and flew to Jamaica three times "to get away because she just wanted peace."

The District Attorney's Office started investigating Bryant on April 4, 2008. Seven months later, she was charged with theft.