PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — A ditch on 17th Street and multi-million dollar infrastructure projects for the City of Lynn Haven; investigators said on Thursday that these were funnels for public funds into the bank account of Phoenix Construction owner, James Finch.

The newest indictment in the Lynn Haven corruption investigation alleges that former Lynn Haven Mayor, Margo Anderson, and former City Commissioner, Antonius Barnes, accepted money and gifts in exchange for helping to award Phoenix Construction contracts like the 17th Street Ditch Stormwater project.

“Mr. Barnes voted on various Finch projects before, during and after receipt of the money that was received from Mr. Finch during the two year period,” said Asst. US Attorney, Stephen Kunz, during a news conference on Thursday. “This was concealed and never disclosed to the public.”

This, and other contracts, caused Lynn Haven to take on millions of dollars in decades-long financial obligations to Phoenix Construction, adding interest along the way. 

The indictment alleges that Finch rigged the bidding system for additional work on 17th Street, not allowing for fair competition with a lower bidder.

Investigators said Anderson later received a free motorhome from Finch, as well as trips in a private jet to Biloxi and the Florida Keys. 

“When public servants betray the trust that you have placed in them and put personal greed above their responsibility to protect you, their citizens, rest assured, the FBI is going to work in lock step with our partners to hold them accountable,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge, Rachel Rojas. 

Sheriff Tommy Ford said while the allegations are discouraging, it doesn’t define the honest officials and hard-working residents of Bay County.

“We will not allow the actions of a few to tarnish the reputation of this great county and all that are doing the right thing,” he said.

Click here to learn more about the new, superseding indictment, and the federal charges that the defendants are facing.