Update: Former city commissioner pleads guilty, admits to voting in exchange for money

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Antonius Barnes

Lynn Haven, Fla. (WMBB) — Federal prosecutors dropped a major bombshell in the Lynn Haven corruption case Wednesday. 

Court records show that former City Commissioner Antonious Barnes plead guilty to one felony count of fraud and agreed with the government that James Finch, the owner of Phoenix Construction bribed him.  

Barnes became the seventh person to plead guilty to charges connected to the federal probe of Lynn Haven corruption. 

Former City Manager Mike White, former Leisure Services Director David Horton, former City Attorney Adam Albritton and two other business owners have already pleaded in the case.

Prosecutors argued that Finch bribed Barnes along with former Mayor Margo Anderson. Anderson and Finch have maintained that they are not guilty. 

However, in today’s court filing Barnes admits that he took money from Finch in exchange for votes in favor of Phoenix Construction getting a contract on the 17th street project.

The filing states Finch discussed Barnes with “a former city manager” who was concerned about Barnes’ vote.

“Barnes would dance for me if I wanted him too,” Finch said according to the filing. “He probably wants more money.” 

A new indictment against Finch and Anderson is expected some time this month.

A PREVIOUS VERSION OF THIS STORY IS BELOW:

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — A new federal case is now filed against former Lynn Haven Commissioner Antonious Barnes.

Barnes is already facing charges in connection to the Lynn Haven corruption investigation. Prosecutors said he took a $46,000 business loan from James Finch, the owner of Phoenix Construction, kept the public in the dark about the loan, and then voted to give Phoenix the 17th Street construction project.

Finch’s attorneys have argued that Barnes didn’t even vote the first time the project came up, that there is no evidence that Barnes influenced anyone to vote for the project, and that the project was unanimously approved.

This new charge accuses Barnes of lying to Innovations Federal Credit Union while applying for a loan. Barnes allegedly did not inform the credit union that he had another loan with Hancock Bank and that the bank had already filed a civil action against him to collect the debt.

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