Court filing: Feds have secret recorded conversations with Finch, Anderson

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LYNN HAVEN, Fla. (WMBB) — A recent court filing in the ongoing Lynn Haven corruption case revealed that federal investigators have “recorded conversations” with two suspects from an as-yet-undisclosed source.

The bombshell was revealed by attorneys for James Finch, the owner of Phoenix Construction, and former mayor Margo Anderson who are hoping to change the conditions of their pre-trial release.

“The Government also recently disclosed for the first time, unbeknownst to Defendants Anderson and Finch, that it has recorded conversations from an undisclosed source dating back as early as April 2020 that will need to be addressed,” the filing states.

Prosecutors cry conflict after Finch pays $344,000 in Anderson legal fees

It is unclear if the source of the recordings is another person who secretly made the recordings or a government wiretap on phones or some combination of those methods.

Prosecutors have charged nine people in an ongoing corruption case involving government projects in the city. Five people have already pleaded guilty in the case while Finch, Anderson, former City Attorney Adam Albritton and former City Commissioner Antonius Barnes are awaiting trial. 

Anderson is accused of accepting bribes, including a motorhome, travel on a private plane, lodging on a private yacht, meals and entertainment from Finch in order to direct multimillion dollar city projects toward his company, according to the federal indictment. 

In their filing, attorneys for Anderson and Finch ask Judge Mark Walker to allow them to spend time together to plan their mutual defense. Currently, as part of the terms of their pre-trial release, the co-defendants are not allowed to communicate without the presence of an attorney.

Retracing the Lynn Haven corruption investigation

However, since the pair plan a mutual defense against the charges they face, attorneys hope the pair can work together to go through “tens of thousands” of documents and other evidence in the case.

Their attorneys also noted that Finch and Anderson have been pals for decades.

“Finally, as indicated above, Defendants Anderson and Finch have been close personal family friends for over 40 years. Finch was the best man at the Anderson wedding,” the filing states. “Their long-term relationship was not born out of corruption, as the government suggests, but out of longtime devotion and friendship. Practically speaking, it is not different from allowing charged family members to communicate. The same result should occur here.”

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