LYNN HAVEN, Fla. — Former Lynn Haven City Attorney Adam Albritton is scheduled to change his plea on Friday from not guilty to guilty.
Albritton, along with former Mayor Margo Anderson, City Council Member Antonious Barnes, and Phoenix Construction Owner James Finch are accused of a criminal conspiracy to enrich themselves both before and after Hurricane Michael.
Albritton worked closely with Anderson and is believed to have a significant amount of information about the case.
This is most likely the twist that federal prosecutors referred to last week when they announced they would proceed with a new indictment. Prosecutors had faced a setback when Judge Mark Walker threw out a grand conspiracy charge against the four defendants but Albritton’s plea, and expected testimony against the remaining three could breathe new life into the case.
If he follows through Albritton becomes the sixth person to plead guilty in the case. The other five are former City Manager Mike White, Lynn Haven Community Services Director David Horton, Erosion Control Specialist Owner David White, and ECS Employee Shannon Rodriguez, and Joshua Daniel Anderson, owner of GreenLeaf Lawn Care of Bay County.
They are also expected to testify against Finch, Anderson, and Barnes if the case goes to trial.
The case itself is a hodgepodge of alleged criminal conspiracies that prosecutors claimed were connected. Walker disagreed ruling that only some of the various crimes were connected to each of the remaining defendants.
Here is how he described them:
- 17th Street: Finch bribed Anderson (the mayor) and Barnes (a city commissioner) to support his projects with the City of Lynn Haven. In addition, Finch obtained one of those projects, the 17th Street project, through a bid rigging agreement with other companies—including Company A (GAC Contractors Inc.).
- ECS: Erosion Control Specialists (ECS) bribed Michael White (the city manager), Anderson, and Albritton (the city attorney) and received hurricane cleanup and trash pickup contracts in return. ECS also submitted false invoices and, when those invoices were paid, paid kickbacks to Albritton.
- Debris Disposal: Unbeknownst to the City, Company A employed Albritton. Albritton directed city contractors to use Company A’s property to dispose of debris. After a meeting with Anderson, Finch, White, and the owner of Company A, Anderson directed companies C and D to dispose of debris at one of Finch’s properties. Anderson also vetoed White’s plan to designate city owned property as a disposal site and secured state government support for a plan to use Finch’s site. At the same time, Anderson accepted things of value from Finch.
- WorldClaim: WorldClaim, a public adjusting firm, approached Individual A, a contract engineer with the City, with a proposal: help us get a contract assisting the City with its hurricane claims and we will give you a percentage of whatever we recover. Individual A, in turn, approached Anderson and White, offering free services from WorldClaim. Anderson and White signed an agreement with WorldClaim using Anderson’s post-hurricane emergency powers. WorldClaim, in turn, provided them free or reduced services.
- Rebuild: After Hurricane Michael, the City had to rebuild many of its facilities. Finch bribed Anderson for inside information and to exert pressure on city officials to aid Finch in obtaining the rebuild project at a significantly higher cost than the City would pay through its already planned rebuild project.