ON AIR NOW

LISTEN NOW

Weather

cloudy-day
73°
Partly Cloudy
H 95° L 76°
  • cloudy-day
    73°
    Current Conditions
    Partly Cloudy. H 95° L 76°
  • cloudy-day
    90°
    Afternoon
    Partly Cloudy. H 95° L 76°
  • cloudy-day
    86°
    Evening
    Mostly Cloudy. H 92° L 77°
LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest top stories

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest traffic report

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest forecast

00:00 | 00:00

Local
Two Jacksonville City Council members indicted for fraud, money laundering, and more
Close

Two Jacksonville City Council members indicted for fraud, money laundering, and more

Two Jacksonville City Council members indicted for fraud, money laundering, and more
Jacksonville City Councilwoman Katrina Brown and Councilman Reggie Brown

Two Jacksonville City Council members indicted for fraud, money laundering, and more

Two Democratic Jacksonville City Council members have been federally indicted on charges including fraud, money laundering, and more. 

37-year-old Katrina Brown and 56-year-old Reggie Brown face a joint 38-count indictment. During their first appearance in front of a federal judge Thursday, they were allowed to remain out of custody on a $50,000 unsecured appearance bond each, which means they did not have to put money down to be released.

Under the conditions of their release, both will have travel restricted to the continental US, must stay crime-free, and report to pretrial services. Reggie Brown surrendered his passport, while Katrina Brown is prohibited from applying for one, for the time being.

The next hearing has been scheduled for June 14th.



The US Attorney’s Office says an unnamed relative of Katrina Brown obtained a $2.652 million loan through the Small Business Administration in 2011 for two businesses- Cowealth, LLC and Basic Products, LLC. They also were approved for a $380,000 loan and more than $210,000 grant from the City of Jacksonville, to establish a facility on Commonwealth Avenue to manufacture, bottle, and sell barbecue sauce. The business was already in operation, but sought to expand, including creating 56 full time jobs. 

In late 2013, which is before Katrina Brown joined the City Council in mid-2015, she began to operate as the primary principal for those businesses. 

The BBQ sauce business struggled, and was not meeting financial projections by late 2013. The indictment says, instead of notifying the lender and City and lender of the business’ state of affairs, Katrina Brown approached Reggie Brown- who was a sitting Council member at the time- about incorporating two businesses, A Plus Training and Consultants, LLC and RB Packaging, LLC. 

Katrina Brown allegedly submitted fake invoices, saying those two businesses provided goods or services that were never actually delivered, in order to continue getting payments from the loan. Some of the examples in the indictment include fraudulent invoices to buy heavy machinery, labels, and other supplies, but prosecutors say the transactions didn’t actually take place. In one case, prosecutors say Katrina Brown falsified a quote for heavy machinery, to make it appear as though it was from one of the alleged shell companies

Reggie Brown was a principal in those allegedly fake businesses, and prosecutors say he managed the bank accounts. The indictment says the money drawn from these fake invoices was used for personal expenses for Reggie Brown and Katrina Brown, with some also going to the business, but under the false pretenses. The indictment further alleges Katrina Brown arranged for at least two other people to get money through the SBA loan for services or goods that were not actually provided. Some of that funding was then given by the third party to Katrina Brown, according to prosecutors. 


Katrina Brown is also alleged to have used false bank statements and doctored information to try to get two bank loans, after the SBA loan was found to be in default in 2015, because of nonpayment. Reggie Brown allegedly did not file a 2014 tax return and did not disclose to the IRS that he had received tens of thousands of dollars from the SBA. 

Attorneys for both Council Members say they maintain their innocence. A statement from their attorneys say they have fully cooperated with the ongoing federal investigation and there was no fraud. 

“Unlike cases where true fraud exists, no one took any money they were not entitled to. All funds were properly invested in the business,” says the statement from their attorneys Curtis Fallgatter and M. Alan Ceballos. 

The statement says Katrina Brown had every intention of operating a successful business when she obtained the loan. 

“Unfortunately, countless unexpected construction, marketing, and manufacturing delays doomed the business,” the statement says. 

Their attorneys say all of the SBA loan money and hundreds of thousands of dollars from Katrina Brown’s family went to the business. Reggie Brown says he formed the companies for the “worthy goal of getting the businesses up and running”, according to the statement. 



Jacksonville City Council President Anna Lopez Brosche confirms to WOKV that she is removing both Council members from their committee assignments. She has engaged the Office of General Counsel for further guidance on their overall standing on the body. 

“Council Members Katrina Brown and Reggie Brown have served their districts with passion, and it is now time for them to focus on the legal process which they are now entering. I am praying for the community, for the people of District 8 and District 10, for the Jacksonville City Council, and for the children and families of Council Members Katrina Brown and Reggie Brown,” says a statement from Brosche. 


Florida Governor Rick Scott has the power to remove public officials, and his Deputy Communications Director tells WOKV they’re reviewing the case.

“These charges are very serious and the Governor, along with the families of our state, expect elected officials to behave ethically and responsibly,” says a statement

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry says it’s a disappointing day for the City. 

“Any time public servants are accused of violating public trust, we are all impacted. While these allegations are concerning, I have complete confidence in our judicial system and respect the process all citizens are afforded,” says a statement from Curry. 

Both Council members have been indicted on conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, 26 counts of aiding and abetting mail and wire fraud, and six counts of money laundering. Katrina Brown has also been indicted for two counts of attempted bank fraud and two counts of making false statements to a federally insured financial institution, Reggie Brown has also been indicted for failure to file a tax return. 

If convicted on all charges, prosecutors say each Council Member could face hundreds of years in prison, although that would require sentencing to be consecutive and at the statutory maximum. As part of this case, prosecutors are seeking forfeiture of $754,613.10, which they say is connected to the alleged offenses. 


Two Jacksonville City Council members have been indicted for fraud, money laundering, and more. I’m going in depth on the nature of the charges, and what comes next.

Posted by Stephanie Brown, News 104.5 WOKV on Thursday, May 31, 2018


Read More

The Latest News Headlines

  • A self-identified California survivalist was sentenced Monday to three consecutive life sentences, without the possibility of parole, in the murders of a couple sleeping on a beach in 2004, as well as the 2017 murder of his own brother. Shaun Michael Gallon, 40, pleaded no contest last month to the murders of Lindsay Cutshall, 22, and Jason Allen, 26, who were shot to death between Aug. 14 and Aug. 16, 2004, as they slept on Fish Head Beach near Jenner in Sonoma County. The case remained unsolved until 2017, when Gallon was accused of using a rifle to kill his younger brother, 36-year-old Shamus Gallon, in the Forestville home they shared with their mother. Following his arrest, Shaun Gallon confessed to the Allen-Cutshall homicides. He pleaded no contest June 13 to all three killings. At the time, Sonoma County officials said there was no apparent motive for Gallon to shoot his brother. “There doesn’t appear to be an altercation of any significance that led to the shooting,” Sgt. Spencer Crum told the Press Democrat. Even prior to his brother’s slaying, Shaun Gallon’s name had long been on law enforcement’s radar. The San Francisco Chronicle reported he was well-known for his erratic behavior, and his rap sheet was a long one. He was convicted in 2009 of assault with a deadly weapon for shooting an arrow at a man in Guerneville, the Chronicle reported. His Facebook page shows multiple photos of homemade bows and arrows, as well as a photo of hiself with a spear he made. “Further, Gallon was also alleged to have attempted to kill a Monte Rio man in June 2004 by using a disguised homemade explosive device, and seriously injuring a second unintended victim when it detonated,” a news release from the Sonoma County District Attorney’s Office read. Gallon was charged in 2017 with felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition, as well as possession of an illegal assault rifle, the district attorney said. The charges to which Gallon pleaded no contest are lengthy, court records show. “There were multiple special allegations and enhancements alleged against Gallon, including that he murdered multiple victims, that he committed great bodily injury on those victims, that he used a firearm to inflict great bodily injury on each of his murder victims and that he had suffered a prior ‘strike’ conviction in 2009 for assault with a deadly weapon,” Ravitch’s news release said. “In his change of pleas, Gallon admitted all charges and enhancements.” Gallon waived all rights of appeal by entering into the plea agreement. Ravitch said the agreement was reached after a review of the records, a review of mitigating material offered by the defense and talks with the victims’ families, as well as the surviving victims of Gallon’s prior crimes. Photos recovered from their camera shows they took photos of one another in front of the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz, the newspaper reported. They then headed north in Cutshall’s red 1992 Ford Tempo for the Sonoma coast, where they found themselves in Jenner, a village Allen had visited a few years earlier. Several witnesses, some conflicting, reported seeing the couple along the way as they stopped for gas and other items. A front desk clerk at the Jenner Inn told police the couple showed up there either Friday, Aug. 13, or the following night. Though the couple ate at the inn, there were no available rooms, so they said they would camp outdoors instead, the Chronicle said. The manager, who declined to give her name, said she chatted with the couple again the following morning when they came in for breakfast. “I asked them if they were having fun,” the woman told the newspaper. “They said they stopped in San Francisco. They were just a happy couple trying to get away for the weekend.” Various accounts indicate Allen and Cutshall were told Fish Head Beach would be a good spot to camp, even though it was illegal to sleep on the beach there.  Police believe it was the night of Aug. 14, 2004, when the couple parked Cutshall’s Tempo in a pullout along nearby Highway 1 before setting up their gear on the beach. According to Sonoma magazine, both made notations in a visitor’s log kept near the beach. “As I stir this mac and cheese, I think to myself, ‘What a wonderful life,’” Allen wrote. “I’ve just spent two awesome days with my fiancée, Lindsay. Can life ever be so perfect? Only with a person who is so great. God gives me this privilege in life and He has given me a wonderful woman to enjoy it.” “The sun is going down in the horizon,” Cutshall wrote, according to the magazine. “All I see is the beams shining on the cliff face. And I know that God is awesome. I look around and I see his creation all around me.” Authorities believe the couple was killed, each by a single rifle shot to the head, that night or early the following morning as they slept in their sleeping bags, their Bible nearby. Family and friends grew concerned when the couple had not turned up back at the Christian camp by Sunday. According to the Chronicle, Lindsay was due to fly home a week later to begin planning her wedding. A missing person report was filed Monday, Aug. 16, by friends at the camp. The couple's bodies were found two days later, first spotted by deputies in a Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department helicopter sent up to search for a man stuck on a cliff near Jenner, the Chronicle reported. Instead, the spotters saw two bodies in bloodstained sleeping bags. With no apparent motive -- there were no signs of robbery or sexual assault at the scene -- detectives were stymied for years. It would take another 13 years before investigators learned what happened or why. ‘I went crazy’  A Sonoma County Probation Department report, obtained by the Press Democrat, paints a disturbing portrait of Gallon’s life and shows ways in which his family shielded him from arrest before he killed his brother. Gallon’s father, David Gallon, admitted to police he got rid of his son’s guns in 2004, a week after Allen and Cutshall were found slain. Shaun Gallon, who had been arrested on unrelated weapons charges, called his father and asked him to dispose of the weapons. David Gallon told investigators he did so “because he feared (Shaun) Gallon was unstable,” the document says. The records show Shaun Gallon became a potential suspect in the double homicide on the beach after deputies found him near a beach in Guerneville with a loaded, stolen gun in the pocket of his camouflage jumpsuit.
  • Unionized campaign organizers employed by Sen. Bernie Sanders are demanding an increase in pay, saying the presidential candidate is not paying them fairly, according to a story in The Washington Post. Campaign staffers have complained to Sanders’ campaign manager that they are receiving “poverty wages,” and they are asking for pay equivalent to a $15-an-hour average wage.  Sanders, I-Vermont, has for years advocated for a federal minimum wage of at least $15 an hour. The staffers union has been negotiating with Sanders’ campaign manager Faiz Shakir, according to the Post story. The conflict over pay, according to the story, “dates back to at least May and remains unresolved.” The newspaper’s reporting came from emails exchanged between the employees, the union and Shakir. The documents, the story said, were provided to the Post “on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the private talks.” >> Read more trending news  Late Thursday, Shakir issued this statement in response to the story: “We know our campaign offers wages and benefits competitive with other campaigns, as is shown by the latest fundraising reports. Every member of the campaign, from the candidate on down, joined this movement in order to defeat Donald Trump and transform America. Bernie Sanders is the most pro-worker and pro-labor candidate running for president. We have tremendous staff who are working hard. Bernie and I both strongly believe in the sanctity of the collective bargaining process and we will not deviate from our commitment to it.” The union representing Sanders' campaign workers, United Food & Commercial Workers Local 400, did not comment on the negotiations, according to the Post story. Four Democratic campaigns – those of Eric Swalwell, who left the race last week, Elizabeth Warren, Julian Castro and Sanders – announced that their staffs would be represented by a union, a first for presidential campaigns. “We’re honored that his (Sanders) campaign will be the first to have a unionized workforce,” Shakir said in a statement in March. Everyone on Sanders’ campaign under the rank of deputy director would be represented by a union, per the agreement first announced in March. Field organizers were to be paid not by the hour, but by a straight salary of $36,000 a year, according to their original employment agreement. According to a draft of a letter to Shakir from the staffers, field organizers were working at least 60 hours per week, putting their average hourly pay at less than $13. “Given our campaign’s commitment to fighting for a living wage of at least $15 an hour, we believe it is only fair that the campaign would carry through this commitment to its own field team,” the letter reads. The U.S. House of Representatives passed a measure this week that would raise the national minimum wage to $15 per hour. The bill has been sent to the Senate. Sanders has introduced a bill on the Senate floor that would make the federal minimum wage at least $15 an hour. According to the Post story, in May, Shakir recommended raising the pay for field organizers to $42,000 and changing the workweek specifications. According to the union, Shakir was seeking to extend the workweek to six days. The union is asking for health care benefits to be increased and for reimbursement of mileage at 58 cents per mile.
  • President Donald Trump plans to nominate lawyer Eugene Scalia, son of late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, to serve as his next labor secretary, according to an announcement posted Thursday on Twitter. >> Read more trending news  Scalia, 55, is a partner in the Washington office of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, where he specializes in administrative law and handles cases related to labor and employment, according to The Washington Post and NPR. He previously served as solicitor of the U.S. Department of Labor under President George W. Bush. He also served as special assistant to Attorney General William Barr during his previous tenure as Bush's attorney general. 'I am pleased to announce that it is my intention to nominate Gene Scalia as the new Secretary of Labor,' Trump wrote Thursday in a Twitter post.  'Gene has led a life of great success in the legal and labor field and is highly respected not only as a lawyer, but as a lawyer with great experience working with labor and everyone else.'  Scalia has long represented companies that have pushed back against unions and strengthening labor laws, The New York Times reported. In 2005, he was hired by Walmart after former employees sued the company, claiming they had been illegally fired for whistle-blowing, according to NPR. His nomination is likely to get some pushback from Democrats, though he's expected to be easily confirmed in the Republican-controlled Senate, according to the Times and the Post. If confirmed, Scalia will replace outgoing Labor Secretary Alex Acosta, who announced his resignation last week amid criticism of his handling of a secret 2008 plea deal with Jeffrey Epstein. The deal, which came under renewed scrutiny after federal authorities revealed new sex trafficking charges against Epstein last week, allowed the 66-year-old to avoid significant jail time and federal prosecution after he was accused of molesting teenage girls. Acosta's deputy, Patrick Pizzella, will serve as acting secretary of labor after his resignation goes into effect Friday. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • Today will be hot and humid with highs in the lower to mid 90’s inland and near 90 at the coast. There will be scattered afternoon thunderstorms today. Feels-like temps will once again be 100-103 inland and 100+ at the coast.  Showers and storms may dampen some early tailgaters for The Rolling Stones concert (2-5 pm).  Showers and any thunderstorms should either be out of Duval County or loosing steam by 6 pm.  CONTEST:  Pick what song you want to hear The Stones play This weekend the heat and humidity stick around with highs in the mid 90’s with only a few widely scattered showers and storms. The mid 90’s hang around on Monday.  INDEPTH:  What you need to know if you are going to the concert
  • An airman was reportedly shot in the leg Thursday night at Nellis Air Force Base. >>Read more trending news The airman was taken to a hospital with survivable injuries, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Lt. Adrian Beas told The Las Vegas Review-Journal. The circumstances surrounding the incident are unclear. Police were called shortly after 9:30 p.m. and found the injured airman near the O’Callaghan Federal Hospital, Beas said. Police and base personnel are investigating how the shooting happened, KVVU-TV reported.

The Latest News Videos