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Court appoints attorney for 2nd indicted Jacksonville City Council member

Katrina Brown, Reggie Brown suspended by governor pending federal trial

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A second Jacksonville City Council member facing a federal indictment received a court-appointed attorney Thursday.

U.S. Magistrate Judge James Klindt appointed attorney Darcy Galnor to represent Katrina Brown, whose family barbecue business is at the center of a 38-count money laundering indictment.

Brown had planned to be represented by former federal prosecutor Curtis Fallgatter. But since she's been suspended from the City Council, she no longer receives her $3,000 a month pay.

At Thursday's status hearing, Brown acknowledged she did not have a steady source of income. As a result, Judge Klindt found she could not afford private counsel and needed a court-appointed lawyer.

"I’ve been telling you all that this (Brown's financial situation) is a testament to the fact that all of the funds were expanded back in the business," Fallgatter said. "She did not walk away with any boats, cars or planes or assets of any kind."

Brown and fellow council member Reggie Brown were suspended by the governor following a federal fraud and money laundering indictment unsealed last month. They are set to be arraigned on those charges Monday.

The Browns, who share a last name but are not related, have both said they will not be resigning their City Council positions. 

As he entered the Federal Courthouse on Thursday, Reggie Brown pointedly said he was not guilty of the charges against him.

"Only reason I would [resign] is if I were guilty, and I am not guilty," Reggie Brown said.

He has already been appointed an attorney, Thomas Bell, after he told the court earlier this month that he could not afford private representation.

Indictment

A combined 38-count indictment unsealed in late May accuses the Browns of using Katrina Brown's family barbecue businesses and a business set up by Reggie Brown to submit fake invoices to their lender for services the businesses had not provided.

Federal prosecutors said the businesses handled nearly $3 million in federal and city loans and grants and that the Browns used the money for personal use and hid the paper trail.

Katrina Brown is named in 37 counts, including conspiracy, mail and wire fraud and attempted bank fraud. She could face up to 720 years in federal prison and $12,250,000 in fines if convicted on all counts. 

Reggie Brown is named in 34 counts, including conspiracy, mail and wire fraud, and a tax charge. He could face up to 601 years in prison and $8,275,000 in fines if convicted on all counts. 

The work usually done by the suspended City Council members, who serve District 8 and District 10, has been divided up among the other council members. At-large Councilman Samuel Newby is taking over District 8, and at-large Councilwoman Anna Lopez-Brosche is taking over District 10, until Gov. Rick Scott appoints replacements for the Browns.

Dozens of men and women have applied to be considered for the appointments. The replacements would likely serve until the Browns' terms end June 30, 2019, or the federal investigation ends, whichever comes first.

While neither Brown has resigned from office, all traces of them have been removed from the City Council offices. Their photos are down, name plates removed and references to them have been scrubbed from the city's website.


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