New indictment alleges Lynn Haven corruption began years before Hurricane Michael

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

The United States District Court’s indictment for the Northern District of Florida details the relationship between Margo Deal Anderson and James Finch, accusing them of fraud and false information to investigators.

In the 58-page second indictment, Finch is accused of paying for several trips to Biloxi and Key West for Anderson and her husband. The couple are said to have made these trips aboard Finch’s private jet. He also allegedly bought a motorhome and gave it to Anderson.

Finch is also accused of making “loans” to Lynn Haven Town Commissioner Antonius Barnes, which Barnes never paid back. Barnes struck a plea deal in October for his role in the case.

The indictment also alleges that Anderson is pressuring Finch’s company to get deals with the city. He said Anderson and Barnes would vote in favor of Finch’s offers or plans.

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

After Hurricane Michael hit, the indictment accuses Anderson of knowing and signing fraudulent charges against local business erosion control specialists. The charges were for cleaning up debris and picking up trash which never took place. Anderson is also accused of having the company clean up debris on her property and making the city pay for it.

According to the indictment, Finch allegedly complained during a meeting at his home with Anderson, former city manager Michael White and representatives of other companies that he was not receiving any of Lynn Haven’s business after the hurricane Michael. The indictment says that the day after the meeting, the debris cleanup companies were ordered to use Finch’s property as a deposit site. The indictment also accuses Finch of paying Anderson’s legal fees after she was arrested and first charged with fraud charges related to cleaning up Hurricane Michael debris.

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

To read the full indictment for all 26 counts, click here.

Anderson and Finch are scheduled to have a conference call with a federal judge in December.

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