New indictment alleges that Lynn Haven’s corruption began years before Hurricane Michael

LYNN HAVEN, Fla. (WJHG / WECP) – An indictment issued by federal investigators this week alleges years of fraud by former mayor of Lynn Haven and a local businessman. Previous indictments contained detailed allegations of corruption that began after Hurricane Michael, but this week’s indictment shows a pattern of corruption that began in 2015.

The U.S. District Court’s indictment for the Northern District of Florida describes the relationship between Margo Deal Anderson and James Finch, accusing the two of fraud and providing false information to investigators.

In the 58-page second indictment, Finch is charged with paying for multiple trips to Biloxi and Key West for Anderson and her husband. The couple allegedly made these trips in Finch’s private jet. He also reportedly bought an RV and gave it to Anderson as a gift.

Finch is also accused of giving “loans” to then Lynn Haven City Commissioner Antonius Barnes, which Barnes never repaid. Barnes entered a plea deal for his role in the case in October.

The indictment also claims Anderson was pushing Finch’s business to solicit bids from the city. It says Anderson and Barnes would vote for Finch’s offer or plan.

All of these allegations came before and after Hurricane Michael on October 10, 2018 in Florida.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Michael, Anderson is charged in the indictment of knowing and signing fraudulent allegations made against local corporations’ erosion control specialists. The charges were for debris removal and garbage collection, which never took place. Anderson is also charged with having the company clean up rubble on their property and making the city pay for it.

According to the indictment, Finch allegedly complained at a meeting at his home with Anderson, former city manager Michael White, and representatives of other companies that he was not getting any business from Lynn Haven after Hurricane Michael. The indictment states that the day after the meeting, the cleanup companies were instructed to use Finch’s property as a dropping point. The prosecution also accuses Finch of paying for Anderson’s legal fees after she was arrested and charged, for the first time, on fraud related to cleaning up the wreckage of Hurricane Michael.

Finch and Anderson are both charged with lying to FBI agents and investigators about what they knew about the case.

To read the full 26-point indictment, click here.

Anderson and Finch are due to hold a conference call with a federal judge in December.

Copyright 2021 WJHG. All rights reserved.

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