Trial for James Finch begins

Turning to the federal courthouse in Tallahassee, where a local case is taking center stage.
Published: Mar. 13, 2023 at 4:38 PM CDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Jury selection took place Monday for the James Finch trial in Tallahassee.

Finch is a Panama City business owner facing bribery and conspiracy charges. It all stems from the lengthy investigation into Lynn Haven public corruption.

The two charges he faces now have been dwindled down from the slew he was originally facing as part of a larger case.

Prosecutors and the defense discussed evidence in past charges, including original indictment and whether parts of it should be used in the coming trial.

During opening statements, there was a debate over whether the $40,000 paid to former commissioner, Antonius Barnes, was a bribe, or a loan to a friend.

Barnes pleaded guilty to fraud last year.

Bay County Deputy County Manager Joel Schubert took the stand, answering questions about his time as Lynn Haven City Manager.

He told the jury he made sure to follow guidelines when Finch would approach him in municipal affairs, adding that he has no issue with Finch.

Prosecutors and the defense argued about how much he could say about his experience with Margo Anderson when she became Mayor during his term. Schubert said Finch became involved in many of his affairs, but he made sure to follow all guidelines to keep relations clean.

Former City Manager Michael White is expected to take the stand Tuesday morning. He took a plea deal in the investigation.

Another defendant in the corruption case, former Lynn Haven Mayor Margo Anderson, took a plea deal last month for one count of lying to the FBI.