Florida Gov. Rick Scott has suspended Jacksonville City Council members Reggie Brown and Katrina Brown. The news comes a day after a federal indictment was unsealed showing the pair faces 38 charges, including fraud.
The charges relate to city and federal Small Business Administration loans that were approved and made for Katrina Brown’s family barbecue sauce business.
Prosecutors allege the pair hatched a scheme as the councilwoman’s barbecue sauce business failed to meet the loan terms.
Reggie Brown, prosecutors claim, would lead two fake companies that would issue false invoices for equipment that never existed and services never rendered in order to draw down the loan funds.
Both council members were set free on $50,000 dollars bond while awaiting trial and have not entered pleas.
Under the maximum sentences, the pair faces more than 1300 years in prison combined, and millions of dollars in fines if they were to be convicted on all count. Federal prosecutor Tyson Duva told the court Thursday they would be unlikely to receive that much prison time, even if convicted on all counts.
The Florida constitution gives the governor broad powers to suspend local officials who have been indicted on crimes. It also gives the state’s chief executive the power to temporarily replace them. Scott has not indicated whether he will.