Taking a closer look at corruption charges against former Lynn Haven City officials

Published: Aug. 21, 2020 at 4:54 AM CDT
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The arrest of now Former Lynn Haven Mayor Margo Anderson and City Attorney Adam Albritton has revealed several problems the city faces and has some locals asking more questions about who else could be involved. Federal investigators mentioned several unnamed companies and people who are involved in the investigation, leaving many locals to speculate who they might be.

“The indictment also alleges a couple other elaborate schemes With very lucrative contracts or steered to company B,” said Northern District of Florida Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Kunz.

The indictment alleges Anderson helped the privately owned Company B win multiple multi-million dollar contracts with the city, including a contract to work on the 17th Street Ditch Project on November 6th 2018. We looked at the minutes for the Lynn Haven Commission meeting on that date and found the contract was awarded to Phoenix Construction for the same project. The indictment also alleges Anderson received several items of value from the owner of Company B in return for her help winning the bids.

“Mrs. Anderson was a beneficiary of numerous jet flights to Biloxi, Mississippi and also to the Keys with the Owner of Company B. These flights were no charge to her as well as entertainment,” said Kunz.

The indictment also mentions a Lynn Haven Commissioner.

“The city manager, the mayor the mayor and another city commissioner were able to use the same company(WorldClaim) to adjust and submit for insurance claims that they had. Two of the three public officials, the City Manager and the city commissioner paid no fee with respect to it,” said Kunz.

When questioned by locals and fellow commissioners during a special emergency meeting, Lynn Haven Mayor Pro Tempore Dan Russell said WorldClaim helped him with insurance claims but he later switched to a different company.

When we asked Russell about the indictment, he said he was not aware of any other city officials involved with WorldClaim or their activity. Even though the federal indictment says Michael White told him and Andersen they would provide them services at no cost.

“Originally WorldClaim was my PA,” said Russell. “I started out using them, realized there were some issues with them. Then I changed over to Berk and blue who is my PA and I paid them a little over $30,000 to do my PA work. I’ve got the check, I’ve got the invoices, I’ve got the canceled checks and I’ve paid that. There is no conflict with me and WorldClaim.”

The indictment says the unnamed city commissioner did not pay WorldClaim any money to help him get around $75,000 from an insurance company for damage to his property.

The indictment also says Anderson and her husband received a motorhome valued at more than $100,000 from Company B in February 2018. We reached out to Phoenix Construction Owner James Finch for comment, but have not received a call back.

To be very clear, no charges have been brought against Phoenix Construction or any other Lynn Haven Commissioner at this time.

Anderson and Albritton both resigned from their positions with the city Thursday.

Word of Anderson’s resignation came shortly after Governor Ron DeSantis issued an executive order suspending the Lynn Haven Mayor.

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