Suspended Jacksonville District 8 City Councilwoman Katrina Brown said Thursday she’s confident about her upcoming federal fraud trial.
On First Coast Connect With Melissa Ross, Brown called to show support for incumbent At Large Group 3 Councilman Tommy Hazouri’s reelection. She also talked about how she plans to defend herself against a 38 count federal indictment, which includes fraud and money laundering. Brown said she’s not concerned about the charges.
- Listen to Brown's full call-in interview
- Jacksonville City Council Members Katrina brown and Reggie Brown Indicted on Federal Fraud Charges
“Anyone can get indicted, when you know, you can go to the grand jury and they always say the famous slogan, ‘indicting a ham sandwich,” said Brown. “So, you know, an indictment is just a form accusation it doesn't necessarily mean that you're going to be found guilty”
Brown was referring a saying that became famous after New York Judge Sol Wachtler said in 1985, "if a district attorney wanted, a grand jury would indict a ham sandwich."
But St. Augustine Attorney Tom Cushman disagreed with that assessment.
"A citizen charged with a crime in federal court or state court is presumed to be innocent," he said. "However, it is a really serious matter with 38 charges."
That’s because, Cushman said, federal indictments usually come after an extensive investigation. The FBI and a number of local or national organizations investigate and secretly provide the reports and testimonies to a grand jury, according to Cushman.
Last May, Katrina Brown and fellow suspended council member Reggie Brown, who aren’t related, were accused of misusing a federally-backed small business loans awarded to Katrina Brown’s family barbecue sauce enterprise.
“If she believes that it’s not a big deal, she should - if she hasn’t already - seek experienced legal counsel who is experienced in federal criminal law,” said Cushman.
Brown said she’s looking forward to the trial. “I believe the government has provided two great lawyers,” adding,“you hear one side of the story and so going to court you hear the truth.”
Katrina Brown and Reggie Brown are schedule to go on trial Aug. 19.