LYNN HAVEN, Fla. (WMBB) — A war of motions continued in federal court as the defendants in the Lynn Haven corruption case continued trying to get the charges against them dismissed before facing a jury.
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 Phoenix Construction owner James Finch, former Lynn Haven Mayor Margo Anderson, former City Attorney Adam Albritton, and former City Commissioner Antonius Barnes are awaiting trial.
Finch’s defense attorney, Guy Lewis, is chipping away at the indictment by seeking to get several charges dismissed under the legal theory that while Finch did, indeed, give or loan Antonius Barnes money while he was a sitting commissioner, and Barnes did, indeed, vote in favor of Finch’s business interests there is no actual evidence of a quid pro quo.
Prosecutors responded to this motion by noting that Lewis was arguing against a charge that his client doesn’t face and that case law was on their side.
“So long as the jury finds that an official accepted gifts in exchange for a promise to perform official acts for the giver, it need not find that the specific act to be performed was identified at the time of the promise,” they wrote.
And in his latest motion, Lewis argues that count one should be dismissed because it alleges an overarching conspiracy that did not actually exist. Instead, there were seven different conspiracies and only four of them allegedly involved Finch.
According to Lewis those conspiracies are
1) A fraudulent invoice scheme concocted by Erosion Control Specialist and former City Manager Michael White.
2) A Hurricane Michael trash pickup scheme.
3) A scheme involving the disposal of vegetative debris.
4) A disaster debris management site scheme that favored Finch and was done by White at the behest of Anderson.
5) A scheme involving Finch, Anderson and Barnes to get construction contracts for Finch on the 17th Street Project and the 1/2 cent surtax projects.
6) A scheme involving WorldClaim Insurance that is not connected to Finch or Barnes.
7) A conspiracy involving Finch and Anderson and the rebuilding of Lynn Haven after Hurricane Michael.
Lewis provided this list of alleged conspiracies and their connection to the defendants in the Lynn Haven corruption case.
If Judge Mark Walker agrees with Lewis’ theory then the only proper recourse is to dismiss count one instead of separating the charges into different counts.
“Any effort by the Government or the Court to unilaterally rewrite Count 1 by dividing it into multiple conspiracy counts or by electing one conspiracy and striking the others would unconstitutionally invade the province of the grand jury,” Lewis wrote.
A hearing in the case is now set for Monday.