JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Two Jacksonville City Council members at the center of a 38-count federal indictment will be well represented when they stand trial on fraud and money laundering charges.
Katrina and Reggie Brown, who are not related, received court-appointed attorneys to represent them in the case, which stems from a doomed barbecue sauce plant run by Katrina Brown's family.
Representing Reggie Brown is criminal defense attorney Thomas Bell, a Jacksonville-based lawyer who brings more than three decades of legal experience to the table.
Katrina Brown, meanwhile, will be represented by attorney Darcy Galnor, a board-certified criminal defense lawyer who's worked for both the State Attorney's Office and Public Defender's Office.
"These two are outstanding lawyers and both Mr. Brown and Mrs. Brown should be happy with the two lawyers they have received," said attorney Gene Nichols, who is unaffiliated with the case.
Both attorneys have their work cut out for them. They're currently poring over 25,000 pages of evidence ahead of a showdown with Assistant U.S. Attorneys Tysen Duva and Michael Coolican.
Duva, the lead prosecutor in the corruption trial of Corrine Brown, is no stranger to success. He's completed 15 cases he has overseen since January 2016, and won every single one of them.
Of the 15 defendants Duva has faced during the same time frame, only one -- Corrine Brown -- was convicted after going to trial. The rest pleaded guilty.
Reached for comment Wednesday, Bell said he was honored to represent Councilman Brown: "It is a privileged and honor to represent Mr. Brown and I look forward to helping him in every way possible."
Galnor declined comment.
Nichols speculated any communication between the defense attorneys at this point would only be cordial conversation. He said there likely has not been any collaboration between them.
"As a defense lawyer, you aren't worried about the co-defendant, period. You're only worried about your client," he said.
Nichols, who has tried a number of federal cases, isn't ruling out the possibility one defendant could flip on the other. He said the first to cooperate with the government could net a reduced sentence.
While the federal government is confident there's enough evidence to convict both council members, it's worth noting both are presumed innocent until proven guilty.