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First Coast

Jury Convicts Ousted Council Members Katrina Brown, Reggie Brown In Fraud Trial

Katrina Brown, Reggie Brown
City of Jacksonville
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Former Jacksonville City Council members Katrina Brown and Reggie Brown were convicted Monday on dozens of fraud charges tied to misuse of loan money for a factory project once promised to bring needed jobs to a struggling neighborhood.

WJCT News partner The Florida Times-Union reports the convictions capped more than a year of legal maneuvering to assign blame for wasted cash from the project to open a plant producing Jerome Brown BBQ Sauce.

Jacksonville City Hall and a lender underwritten by the U.S. Small Business Administration cumulatively loaned about $3 million to Katrina Brown’s family businesses, Cowealth LLC and Basic Products LLC. The city also extended a $210,000 grant based on assurances that significant work had already been done to convert a Commonwealth Avenue warehouse into the new factory.

Federal agents who served search warrants there in late 2016 found only a fraction of the space occupied and reported that none of the equipment they found matched invoices that were supposed to show work that had been done there.

An expanded version of this story is at Jacksonville.com