Indicted Lynn Haven developer James Finch speaks on allegations, claims charges are “misleading”

Lynn Haven

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — One of those indicted in the Lynn Haven corruption case is speaking publicly about the investigation and their charges.

Lynn Haven developer and Phoenix Construction owner, James Finch, sat down on Wednesday afternoon for an interview with News 13’s morning anchor, Chris Marchand, as they talked about a number of facets of the case.

Finch called the U.S. Attorney’s indictment “misleading” and “slanted.”

“You’ve got the federal government coming in and saying there’s a big conspiracy, there’s no conspiracy out there,” Finch said. “In Lynn Haven, I’ve made a lot of money and I’ve had a good time in my life. But stealing from Lynn Haven isn’t something I want to do.”

Retracing the Lynn Haven corruption investigation

He said that when it comes to allegations of fraud, bid-fixing and “gifts for work” bribes with former Lynn Haven public leaders, it’s all hearsay.

Finch said his company, Phoenix Construction, has done a lot of work for the City of Lynn Haven and is legally owed millions of dollars for that work. He said his friendly relationship with former Lynn Haven Mayor Margo Anderson goes back 40 years, but had nothing to do with the work his company has received. He said any money and gifts given, but not reported by Anderson as alleged in the indictment, are not his concern.

“I don’t know about what she is supposed to report as a politician,” he said. “I try to stay away from politicians. What she needed to report is strictly up to her, but I don’t think that’s a federal offense, I think that’s a state ethics offense or whatever.” 

When it comes to allegations of bid-fixing on city contracts, Finch said they’re unfounded.

“I don’t know anything about it,” he said. “They didn’t ask us if we had done any bid-rigging.”

Instead, he said former Lynn Haven City Manager, Michael White, is the bad actor, citing his former run-ins with the law.

“It’s real simple, the city manager went rogue and stole all the money,” Finch said. “The mayor pro tem up there, when he would get drunk and having trouble with his wife and had the police looking for him, he would have him in his house. I think he should have come into the commission and say ‘hey, we have a problem with the city manager.’” 

Michael White has already pleaded guilty to corruption charges in this case. He is expected to testify against Finch, Anderson and former City Attorney Adam Albritton in exchange for a reduced sentence. 

Finch said he’s ready to fight the charges in court, and is going to help Anderson do the same.

“I loaned her some money for her lawyer bills,” he said. “Sure I loaned her some money, they charged her 64 times. She’s a retired school teacher, she has no money.” 

As it currently stands, Anderson, Finch, Albritton, and Barnes will all be going to trial together. At this time, no trial date has been set.

You can watch the full interview with Finch below:

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