TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WMBB) – Tuesday morning James Finch’s trial began in Tallahassee. Finch is facing a single count of felony bribery.
James Finch, the owner of Phoenix Construction, is the last of nine defendants who were charged in connection to bribery and other crimes in Lynn Haven before and after Hurricane Michael. Every other defendant, including a former city commissioner, a former mayor, a former city manager, and a former city attorney, pleaded guilty to at least one felony charge.
Finch is accused of bribing then-City Commissioner Antonius Barnes. Federal prosecutors maintain that Finch bribed Barnes to get his vote on Phoenix projects. Finch and Barnes say it was a business loan between friends and that Finch never needed his vote for any of his projects.
On Tuesday, jurors were selected for the trial and both sides presented their opening arguments.
Former City Attorney, Roger Jackson, and former City Manager Joel Schubert were called to the stand by federal prosecutors. Each witness gave their testimony.
This is Finch’s second trial, the first was ruled a mistrial in March.
Former City Manager, Micheal White is set to take the stand on Wednesday. White is currently serving his 42-month sentence for wire fraud in connection to the Lynn Haven Corruption Case.
News 13 is following this investigation and will provide updates as the trial continues.