Panama City, FL –
LYNN HAVEN, Fla. (WMBB) – A war of petitions continued in federal court as defendants in the Lynn Haven corruption case continued to try to have the charges against them dismissed before facing a jury.
Prosecutors have indicted 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 await trial.
Finch’s defense attorney Guy Lewis is chomping down on the indictment seeking to have several charges dismissed under the legal theory that although Finch did in fact give or loan money to Antonius Barnes while he was a sitting commissioner, and Barnes did in fact vote in favor of Finch’s business interests, there is no real evidence of a quid pro quo.
Prosecutors responded to that request by noting that Lewis was arguing against a charge his client is not facing and that the case law was on their side.
“As long as the jury finds that an official has accepted gifts in exchange for a promise to perform official acts for the donor, they need not find that the specific act to be performed has been identified at the time of the promise, ”they wrote.
And in his latest motion, Lewis argues that the count should be dismissed because it alleges a global conspiracy that didn’t actually exist. Instead, there were seven different plots and only four of them allegedly involved Finch.
According to Lewis, these plots are
1) A fraudulent billing scheme concocted by erosion control specialist and former city manager Michael White.
2) A Hurricane Michael Garbage Collection Program.
3) A scheme for eliminating plant debris.
4) A disaster debris management plan that favored Finch and was done by White at Anderson’s request.
5) A scheme involving Finch, Anderson and Barnes to secure construction contracts for Finch on the 17th Street project and the 1/2 cent surtax projects.
6) A program involving WorldClaim Insurance which is not related to Finch or Barnes.
7) A conspiracy involving Finch and Anderson and the rebuilding of Lynn Haven after Hurricane Michael.
Lewis provided this list of alleged conspiracies and their connection to the defendants in the Lynn Haven corruption case.
If Judge Mark Walker agrees with Lewis’ theory, the only appropriate recourse is to dismiss count one instead of separating the charges into different counts.
“Any government or court effort to unilaterally rewrite Count 1 by splitting it into multiple conspiratorial counts or electing one conspiracy and hitting the rest would unconstitutionally invade the grand jury province,” Lewis wrote.
A hearing in the case is now set for Monday.
Defense attorney argues Lynn Haven was actually plagued by 7 distinct conspiracies Source link Defense attorney argues Lynn Haven was actually plagued by 7 distinct conspiracies