JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - One of two suspended Jacksonville City Council members facing federal fraud charges is asking the federal court to be tried separately.
Katrina Brown and Reggie Brown, who are not related, are accused by federal prosecutors of conspiring to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars loaned to Katrina Brown's family barbecue sauce plant. The 38-count indictment was unsealed in late May.
Both have pleaded not guilty.
Facing a Friday deadline to file motions in the case, Reggie Brown's attorney filed three motions: one to have a separate trial from Katrina Brown, another asking that a paragraph about Reggie Brown voting in favor of the loan be removed from the indictment and a third asking the judge to dismiss the charges of wire fraud and money laundering.
Reggie Brown's attorney claims there’s no direct evidence that Reggie Brown “had any knowledge of any misrepresentations Katrina Brown may or may not have made to lenders.”... and that he “…never willfully agreed to commit a crime.”
"As to the motion to sever, that is not uncommon when you think you are the less culpable defendant, you will not want to go to trial with the other defendant because you want to avoid getting their paint on you," said attorney Randy Reep, who is not affiliated with this case. "I think the severance is unlikely to happen unless there's some other way to do that. As far as the nomenclature, I feel Mr. Brown’s attorney will receive a narrower scope of what he has to defend against."
One the second issue, Reggie Brown's lawyer argues that while the councilman voted in favor of the loan to the family, he regularly voted in favor of economic development projects in Northwest Jacksonville. The lawyer also argues that the paragraph implies that Reggie Brown was working with Katrina Brown's family as far back as 2011, when the conspiracy is alleged to have started in 2013.
The third motion claims the charges of wire fraud and money laundering involve the same offenses for which Brown is already charged with mail fraud, which is a violation of federal case law.
Other motions, including from Katrina Brown's attorney, could be filed before Friday's deadline. The judge will likely call for a hearing once she’s reviewed the motions.
The trial is currently scheduled for February.
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