Finch gets court victory as prosecutors drop count

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LYNN HAVEN, Fla. (WMBB) — A Lynn Haven business owner facing 43 counts of fraud in a federal corruption probe got a win Thursday when prosecutors agreed to drop one of the charges.

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. 

Lawyer argues Finch charge exceeds statute of limitations

Finch is accused of taking part in a conspiracy where he bribed public officials in order to receive millions of dollars worth of construction work for his company. In a recent motion, Finch’s attorney wrote that one of the counts is based on a check written from Finch to Barnes’ insurance company.

The check was deposited on January 26, 2016 and makes the alleged crime outside of the statute of limitations.

In their response prosecutors wrote that it was possible to make a criminal case even with evidence that was outside the statute of limitations.

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

But, they ultimately agreed that for this one count, the charge should be dropped.

“However, the weight of authority is that the statute of limitations for wire fraud, as the charges are framed here, begins to run from the date of each execution of the scheme to defraud,” they wrote. “Accordingly, the government does not oppose an order dismissing Count 2 of the superseding indictment.”

Finch still faces 42 other counts in the case. His attorney has promised that future motions will take aim at the rest of the case.

“Like the conspiracy count, the substantive counts attempt to charge a violation of the wire fraud statute based on an honest services theory,” he wrote. “Again, the substantive counts are fatally flawed for a number of reasons, the least of which is failing to detail any quid quo pro as required by law.

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