PANAMA CITY BEACH – In response to Defendants’ motion for separate trials, Prosecutors now allege that developer James Finch is the “impetus” behind planting evidence that led to the indictment of his lifelong friend and former Lynn Haven Mayor Margo Anderson.
The Defendants claim that the Bay County Sheriff’s Office leaked to now-deceased contractor and target Derwin White that a search would be conducted on his nephew Mickey White’s company, Erosion Control Specialist (ECS). Backdated invoices were found that led to the indictment of former Mayor Anderson in 2020.
James Finch was later indicted for conspiracy with Anderson to defraud the City. The two friends are facing trial, which is scheduled for trial Nov. 28. Their lawyers are working together as the Defendants maintain their innocence. Finch has even loaned his friend more than a million dollars to cover her legal expenses.
The Defendants say that Mayor Anderson blew the whistle to Sheriff Tommy Ford on April 1, 2019, that ECS had overcharged the City $5 million post Hurricane Michael. They say that ECS’s owner, Mickey White, was being led by his uncle, Derwin White. They say that Derwin White got a tip that the search warrant on ECS would be executed, and instructed his nephew to place backdated invoices implicating Mayor Anderson for illegal debris cleanup at her residence.
BCSO Major Jimmy Stanford testified at the March evidentiary hearing that Derwin White was probably upset with Mayor Anderson for blowing the whistle. Defendants claim that was precisely Derwin White’s motive to plant the backdated invoices.
But now, for the first time, Prosecutors say on pages 13 and 14 of their latest brief that they have evidence that “Finch was the impetus for Derwin White instructing Mickey White to create the backdated invoices.”
Earlier this year, Federal Judge Mark Walker ordered prosecutors to provide all evidence to the Defendants. They missed the deadline and continued to miss the deadline even after the evidentiary hearing. The Judge rebuked Prosecutors and Investigators for being unprofessional, haphazard, and reckless. The Defendants claim that they still don’t have all the evidence to this day.
This new allegation by Prosecutors is stunning, and raises serious questions. Not least of which is why Finch would want evidence planted at ECS that would lead to the indictment of his friend, and later by extension, to himself.
Judge Walker has already issued a verbal sanction to Prosecutors and Investigators. At the same time, he said that the Court was losing patience and warned that any further substandard conduct could lead to a dismissal of the entire case.
It’s unclear at this time if another evidentiary hearing will be called regarding the new allegation and evidence Prosecutors claim to possess.
More to follow.