Panama City, FL –
(WMBB– On Friday, Lynn Haven’s former lawyer became the sixth person to admit federal crimes in an ongoing corruption investigation.
Adam Albritton’s tone was muted and direct as he appeared by teleconference before Judge Mark Walker in the case.
After the standard question and answer period for the plea agreements, Albritton initially agreed that he was making this decision of his own free will, that he was a U.S. citizen, and that he was 34 years old. He said he passed the Florida bar exam in 2011 and spent the past decade on the other side of the law as a criminal, civil and family lawyer.
Albritton told Walker he had no experience in federal court until he was charged with federal crimes in Lynn Haven.
Albritton was indicted along with former mayor Margo Anderson, former city council member Antonious Barnes and Phoenix Construction owner James Finch. Most of the charges in the case relate to fraud and corruption in connection with several schemes linked to the town of Lynn Haven before and after Hurricane Michael.
Five others have already pleaded guilty: City Manager Mike White, Lynn Haven Community Services Manager David Horton, Erosion Control Specialist Owner David White and ECS Employee Shannon Rodriguez, and Joshua Daniel Anderson, owner of Bay County GreenLeaf Lawn Care.
During his plea hearing, Albritton admitted counts 13 and 26 of the case. These are wire fraud and honest service wire fraud. As part of the plea deal, the prosecution agreed to drop all other charges during the sentencing phase of the trial.
Albritton faces up to 20 years in prison on each count, a fine of $ 250,000 and three years of supervised release. Albritton is also subject to forfeiture of all confiscated assets.
Albritton initially admitted that Chief 13’s facts were correct and that he had David White’s firm, Erosion Control Specialists, do post-hurricane clean-up work on his home. Then, without paying for the work, he requested an invoice from the company and submitted this invoice to his insurance company for reimbursement.
David White then billed Lynn Haven for the work, claiming their employees were cleaning up town properties.
In Count 26, Albritton admitted that he accepted a bribe from David White and then contracted with the city and ECS without submitting it to the city commission. This was an additional garbage collection to be carried out by ECS after Hurricane Michael.
Prosecutors said Albritton texted David White with dollar signs to show he expected to be paid for the fraud.
However, Albritton’s attorney, Jim Parkman, said his client was unaware David White would take the city’s money and not do the job he was supposed to do.
“It’s just that Mr. White never told Mr. Albritton he was going to do it,” Parkman said.
As part of the plea hearing, Albritton was repeatedly required to state that he had not been promised a favorable sentence and made it clear that Judge Walker would be the one to decide what his sentence would be.
If he cooperates and testifies against the remaining defendants, Albritton could “win a substantial aid deal but was not entitled to it,” Walker said.
This deal would be filed by prosecutors before Albritton was sentenced, but prosecutors could simply choose not to file it and the judge could choose to ignore it when deciding Albritton’s fate.
The prosecution agreed as part of the plea deal not to charge Albritton with other crimes arising from this situation.
The former lawyer said he understood the situation. And then he said he was guilty.
“Are you pleading guilty because you are in fact guilty of both counts?” Walker asked.
“Yes, your honor,” replied Albritton.
Prosecutors have promised that a new indictment in the case involving Finch, Anderson and Barnes will be forthcoming. This indictment will almost certainly include new information provided by Albritton.
Former Lynn Haven city attorney pleads guilty in corruption probe Source link Former Lynn Haven city attorney pleads guilty in corruption probe