JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Jacksonville city councilman who once served alongside Katrina and Reggie Brown, who were both found guilty of fraud and corruption charges, told News4Jax he doesn't believe his former colleagues deserve prison time.
The two Browns, who are not related, are scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 27. Katrina Brown was found guilty on all 37 counts she faced, and Reggie Brown was found guilty on 33 of 34 counts he faced.
Councilman Reggie Gaffney wasn't expecting the trial to end as it did.
"I was shocked with the outcome," Gaffney said. "I love both of them. They are both dear friends."
After they were found guilty, both Katrina Brown and Reggie Brown maintained their innocence.
"I had absolutely nothing to do with this," Reggie Brown told reporters as he left the courthouse. "Like I stated from day one, I had absolutely nothing to do with this, never had any conversation about anything with her, and I thought and I still feel the work that I did was legitimate."
The allegations stemmed from a federal loan and city grant connected to a barbecue sauce business. A jury determined Reggie Brown and Katrina Brown both used some of the money for personal use.
Gaffney said he doesn't believe they should be locked up for their crimes. He believes the trial should educate other small business owners on the nuances of executing government loans or grants.
"I'm just going to pray for them both, because I know they have a good heart, and ask the city to pray for them," Gaffney said.
Gaffney will appear in an interview Sunday at 9 a.m. on This Week in Jacksonville.