JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A federal judge has ruled that the sentencing for former city council members Katrina and Reggie Brown will remain in March, denying a request by prosecutors to move the hearing back to its original date of January 27, 2020.
The Browns, who are not related, were convicted in October on charges including conspiracy, fraud and money laundering. The charges stemmed from a federally backed loan and a city grant utilized by a barbecue sauce business owned by Katrina Brown’s family. A jury found that Katrina Brown and Reggie Brown both used some of the money for personal use. Following their conviction, a judge set their sentencing for Jan. 27.
On Dec. 17, attorney and former federal prosecutor Curtis Fallgatter informed the court he was representing Katrina Brown for her sentencing proceedings. Fallgatter previously represented Brown before she was indicted, and at the time of her indictment, but Brown later told the court she could not afford her own attorney, and an attorney was appointed to represent her. In July, weeks before her scheduled trial date, Brown told the court she wished to represent herself at trial, a request that was later granted. In his latest filing, Fallgatter told the court that Brown’s family and friends are providing the money to pay her legal bills for her sentencing.
Fallgatter also filed a motion on Katrina Brown’s behalf asking for a continuance of the scheduled sentencing hearing, specifying a 60-day delay. Fallgatter argued that the case is complicated, and that a draft version of the pre-sentencing investigation report would be released during the holidays, which would affect the ability to review the report. Several hours after the motion was filed, a judge granted the request, rescheduling the sentencing for March 30.
The following day, federal prosecutors filed a motion for reconsideration of the judge’s order delaying the sentencing. Prosecutors noted that Brown’s request was granted before they had a chance to respond. They also argued that the court did not have “material facts” at its disposal at the time of the ruling. The motion also states that Fallgatter has significant knowledge of the facts of the case, having represented Katrina Brown prior to indictment, and having had access to some of the records related to the case at that time. The motion also cites a News4Jax story from August in which Fallgatter comments on Brown’s decision to represent herself, making the argument that it showed Fallgatter had done further research on the facts of the case. Prosecutors asked the judge to move the sentencing back to the previously scheduled date of Jan. 27.
Thursday, after reviewing the motion by prosecutors, as well as responses from each defendant, a federal judge ruled that the delay for the sentencing hearing in this case was warranted, adding that motions to delay an original sentencing date are routinely granted, and that there was no reason to treat these defendants differently.