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Ex-Jacksonville Councilors Katrina Brown, Reggie Brown lose fraud-sentence appeals

The politicians, who are not related, reported to separate prisons in January after extended delays in sentencing for convictions that ended a 2019 trial.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Editor's Note: The video above is from a previous story date Oct. 29, 2020.

Bids by former Jacksonville City Council members Katrina Brown and Reggie Brown to challenge their fraud convictions have been rejected by a federal appeals court.

“After a thorough review of the record and the parties’ briefs, and with the benefit of oral argument, we find that the appellants’ arguments lack merit,” a three-judge panel for the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals concluded last month.

The judges upheld prison sentences the former lawmakers are serving — 33 months for Katrina Brown and 18 months for Reggie Brown — for being convicted on dozens of counts stemming from misuse of loan money for a factory project that once promised to bring needed jobs to a struggling neighborhood.

The politicians, who are not related, reported to separate prisons in January after extended delays in sentencing for convictions that ended a 2019 trial.

A federal Bureau of Prisons website said Katrina Brown is scheduled to be released in June 2023 from the Federal Correctional Institution at Marianna, about 65 miles west of Tallahassee. Reggie Brown, who began his sentence at a prison in Jesup, Ga., is now assigned to a residential reentry office outside Orlando and is scheduled for release in May.

Both Browns had flatly denied committing any crime when they were charged with conspiring to commit mail and wire fraud to get money from a federally backed small-business lender.

Jacksonville City Hall and a lender backed by the U.S. Small Business Administration cumulatively advanced about $3 million for a project to convert a Commonwealth Avenue warehouse into a factory for Jerome Brown BBQ Sauce, the signature product at Katrina Brown’s family’s restaurants.

The loans were approved before Katrina Brown was elected to the council in 2015 and before prosecutors said Reggie Brown joined any conspiracy, but jurors concluded the two eventually worked together to get a string of payments for work that Katrina Brown falsely claimed was performed by companies Reggie Brown controlled.

Jacksonville City Hall and a lender backed by the U.S. Small Business Administration cumulatively advanced about $3 million for a project to convert a Commonwealth Avenue warehouse into a factory for Jerome Brown BBQ Sauce, the signature product at Katrina Brown’s family’s restaurants.

The loans were approved before Katrina Brown was elected to the council in 2015 and before prosecutors said Reggie Brown joined any conspiracy, but jurors concluded the two eventually worked together to get a string of payments for work that Katrina Brown falsely claimed was performed by companies Reggie Brown controlled.

You can read more from our partners at the Florida Times-Union.

    

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