LYNN HAVEN, Fla. (WMBB) — Prosecutors have two days to respond to a motion from local businessman James Finch that seeks to throw out three more counts in his 42 count federal indictment.
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 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.
“Here, a single paragraph of the Superseding Indictment merely alleges that Barnes moved, seconded, and voted on matters before the Lynn Haven City Commission favorable to Finch’s business interests and that Finch provided Barnes with a series of small, flexible loans over several years,” he wrote.
He added that the attorneys for Anderson and Albritton challenged the previous indictment and were able to convince Judge Mark Walker to dismiss two counts in their cases.
“Unfortunately, the Superseding Indictment incorporates much of the same confusing, legally flawed, inaccurate language from the initial indictment,” Lewis wrote. “There are no express factual allegations indicating that Finch illegally paid Barnes an alleged bribe with an intent to influence Barnes to perform a specified official act in violation of the honest services statute.”
In April, Lewis argued that one of the checks written to Barnes by Finch was outside the five year statute of limitations on the charge. Prosecutors chose to drop that charge.
Walker has ordered prosecutors to respond to this latest motion by Friday. A trial in the case is set for August.