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Former Jacksonville City Council members Katrina Brown and Reggie Brown.

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Former Jacksonville City Council members headed to prison

Economic development money was diverted, prosecutors argued.

Two former members of the Jacksonville City Council Finance Committee will serve prison time.

Expelled Jacksonville City Council members Katrina Brown and Reggie Brown, convicted of conspiracy to defraud economic development funds, each received prison sentences after numerous attempts to dodge prison time.

Convicted of 37 counts, Katrina Brown will serve 32 months and is expected to forfeit $425,336.

Co-conspirator Reggie Brown was sentenced to 18 months in prison and $411,753 in forfeiture. He was sentenced on 33 counts.

Though these sentences sound onerous, they fall short of the hundreds of years in prison and millions of dollars in fines that each could have received if maximum sentences had been given for all charges.

The pair was convicted of extracting hundreds of thousands of dollars for personal use from a Small Business Administration-backed loan provided for Katrina Brown’s family’s barbecue sauce plant.

Prosecutors argued the two misappropriated federal and city money provided to fund the ultimately failed  sauce plant, with money being routed through shell accounts for everything from non-existent invoices to personal expenses of the alleged co-conspirators.

Councilman Reggie Brown voted affirmatively on the incentive package that went to Katrina Brown’s barbecue sauce business in 2011, and soon thereafter, prosecutors asserted, the Browns engaged in a scheme to defraud the Small Business Administration and the city of Jacksonville.

The conspiracy included multiple counts of wire fraud, mail fraud and money laundering for both defendants. Katrina Brown was also found guilty of two counts of false statements to financial institutions, as she attempted to recapitalize the sauce business.

The total list of charges: 13 counts of wire fraud, another 13 of mail fraud, five counts of money laundering, and charges of attempted bank fraud for Ms. Brown and failure to file a 1040 tax form by Mr. Brown.

The Florida Times-Union noted that prosecutors wanted longer stretches for the Browns, with the idea of deterrence in mind.

“This is probably not the last time there’s going to be a public corruption case in this court involving Jacksonville politicians,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Coolican said. “What the court does here today is going to be remembered.”

Written By

A.G. Gancarski has been a correspondent for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." He can be reached at AG@FloridaPolitics.com

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