LYNN HAVEN, Fla. (WMBB)–The indictments filed Tuesday have brought up more questions for elected officials in Lynn Haven and in Bay County.
While prosecutors did not charge several prominent individuals, they did connect them to the case.
Tuesday started off with word of several arrests, including three business leaders and two Lynn Haven city employees. City officials quickly reacted to the charges.
Lynn Haven City Manager, Vickie Gainer, issued the following statement on behalf of the city.
“The city continues to gather information at the same pace this investigation is taking place,” Gainer wrote. “Mr. David Horton, has been charged with allegations of criminal activity. Mr. Horton has been suspended without pay until the city has had the opportunity to review the allegations. The vendor in questioned, Greenleaf Lawn Care performed lawn care services for the city. In light of the allegations with Greenleaf Lawn Care, the city will be reviewing their contract for possible termination.”
Prosecutors say Gainer spotted and stopped fraud when she initially took over after former City Manager Mike White resigned.
Another person who took on the alleged fraud is City Commissioner Judy Tinder.
Tinder brought her concerns to a city council meeting several months ago and says she’s not surprised at the findings. Tinder pushed for a forensic audit of the city’s spending history after reviewing just six invoices issued to the two companies being investigated. She pushed for the audit back in August.
“Our residents deserve this. The citizens of Lynn Haven have been lied to and it’s just not right. They can’t trust public office and that is not right. This task force that the folks have come up with has been needed for a long long time,” Tinder said.
Tinder went on to say, “I feel this corruption has gone on long before the storm and maybe it’s the storm that has kicked everyone into gear as far looking into it and personally I’m thrilled.”
A Bay County official is also dealing with the fallout from the indictment. Bay County Commissioner, Keith Baker, issued a statement following the revelation that he took part in an all expenses paid vacation that was funded by one of the indicted business owners.
“Erosion Control Specialists is not a past or present vendor of Bay County. In December of 2018, as a newly elected county commissioner, I was unaware of the requirements regarding reporting of gifts by elected officials,” Baker said. “I did accept a trip to Tennessee and will take immediate steps to rectify my failure to report that gift with the State Ethics Commission.”
Baker was not indicted for any crime Tuesday.
The indictment states that Erosion Control Specialists did work at individual homes and then billed the city for it.
Those homes include Mike White, David Horton, Mayor Margo Anderson, her mother, Lynn Haven City Attorney Adam Albritton. Erosion Control Specialists also did work at the private gated community of a Lynn Haven City Commissioner. Commissioner Dan Russell is not named in the indictment but the indictment names the community where the work was done as Osceola Point. According to the Supervisor of Election’s Office Russell lives in Osceola Point.
Although these individuals were mentioned in the indictment, they have not been charged with a crime.
Prosecutors say their investigation into the case is ongoing.
News 13 has reached out to Lynn Haven Mayor Margo Anderson, Commissioner Russell, Commissioner Aldridge, and Commissioner Perno. We have not received comments at this time.