LYNN HAVEN, Fla. (WMBB) — A local business owner under federal indictment unloaded on prosecutors, the media and “the Facebook crowd,” on Thursday.
James Finch, the owner of Phoenix Construction, threw these verbal barbs after a report News 13 aired on Wednesday about Finch purchasing former Lynn Haven Mayor Margo Anderson’s home after they were indicted on corruption charges.
On Thursday, Finch sent a lengthy letter to News 13.
“I have a hard time watching the ignorant people of this town (media and the Facebook crowd) downgrade my friend Margo Anderson, the best mayor the City of Lynn Haven has ever had,” he wrote. “Margo Anderson was the whistleblower who brought the crimes in Lynn Haven to the attention of law enforcement, but that part of the story has been ignored by the media, and by the prosecutors. She’s the one that made the Sheriff’s Department aware of the activities of the people who’ve been arrested and who have since plead guilty.”
He then offered a defense of his purchase of her home for $200,000, saying that Anderson could not afford to defend herself without his help and that she wouldn’t take his help without putting up her home as collateral.
“The Court approved me helping Margo fund her case, to the prosecutor’s protestations,” Finch wrote. “He would have much rather had someone who couldn’t afford to defend herself.”
He also said that investigators have some of their facts wrong about the case, including time Anderson allegedly spent on Finch’s boat and Finch’s activities after Hurricane Michael when he was in the hospital.
Finch continued by taking issue with money allegedly spent by federal prosecutors on a public relations firm, Sachs Media Group. Finch claimed that the U.S. Attorneys Office spent $400,000 in violation of Department of Justice policies.
“Did you ever stop to consider why the prosecutors and FBI provide the media with so much information about these cases?” he wrote. “It’s so they can convict the defendants in the court of public opinion before they ever reach the courthouse.”
Sachs sent News 13 a statement about this allegation.
“We are proud of the public information support we were privileged to provide to the vital mission of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Florida— including its work to prevent, pursue, prosecute and punish public corruption of the kind alleged to have been so flagrantly widespread in Lynn Haven,” Ron Sachs, the CEO of Sachs Media, wrote.
Finch then accused former City Manager Mike White, who has already pleaded guilty in the case, of having all the property of city employees, including law enforcement officers, cleaned after the hurricane at no charge. He added that while Anderson is accused of taking part in this activity, she did not.
In a statement on this issue, current City Manager Vickie Gainer wrote, “The city will not engage or comment on any pending litigations or investigations at this time.”
The U.S. Attorney’s office also declined to comment.
Prosecutors are expected to seek a superseding indictment against Finch and Anderson later this month. The parties are also scheduled to have a hearing in front of Judge Mark Walker in December.
Finch’s final comments in the letter included a defense not only of his actions in Lynn Haven but of his life.
“As for me, you can kiss my ass,” he wrote. “If this is politically incorrect, you can kiss my rear end, whichever you prefer. I’ll not apologize for working hard and making money and having one hell of a good time during my life. You should try it. It’s about working, not stealing.”