Ex-Jacksonville City Council members sentenced to prison in fraud case;Katrina Brown sentenced to 33 months, Reggie brown gets 18 months in prison .
Ashley Harding, ReporterJoe McLean, Reporter by News4Jax.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The long-delayed sentencing hearing for ex-Jacksonville City Council members Katrina Brown and Reggie Brown reached a conclusion Thursday afternoon, with both receiving prison sentences.
A judge handed Katrina Brown a sentence of 33 months followed by five years of supervised release. She was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of more than $425,000. During the probationary period, she will not be allowed to open new lines of credit or make any big purchases without permission from her probation officer.
Reggie Brown was given a sentence of 18 months, followed by three years of supervised release. He was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of more than $411,000.
The two, who are not related, were convicted last year in a case stemming from a federally-backed loan and a city grant obtained for a barbecue sauce business owned by Katrina Brown’s family.
Katrina Brown was convicted on 37 different felonies, including money laundering, fraud and conspiracy. Reggie Brown was convicted of 33 felonies.
Final statements saw the pair’s attorneys call a few more witnesses to testify about their character — Katrina Brown’s uncle and pastor and Reggie Brown’s ex-wife appeared. Also, former Jacksonville Sheriff Nat Glover spoke on their behalf.
The Judge said neither Reggie Brown nor Katrina Brown showed any real remorse during the course of the trial or sentencing and that this was a sophisticated and deliberate act of fraud. The judge added that this was not a case of public corruption because she said the two defendants never used their office to benefit the scheme or themselves. She said she considered several mitigating factors, including their lack of criminal history and their public service.
Both attorneys said they’ll be looking at their appeal options.
“Our biggest concern is that we believe that [Katrina] Brown is entitled to a new trial because of some of the errors that were made, and we have access to the appellate court to take a look at that. In the meantime, we of course accept the judge’s decision on sentencing,” said Curtis Fallgatter, attorney for Katrina Brown.
“We’re gratified that the judge decided this was not a crime of public corruption,” said Alan Ceballos, attorney for Reggie Brown. “She took into consideration all of the mitigating factors that were presented yesterday in the courtroom and went significantly beneath the sentencing range. We’re gratified by that.”
For Katrina Brown, the federal government wanted 4½ years in prison, three years of supervised release and $535,335 forfeited over. For Reggie Brown, prosecutors wanted four years in prison, three years of supervised release and $411,752 forfeited over.
The defense for both parties was asking for probation with no prison time, citing health problems, financial hardship and a lack of prior criminal records.
Sentencing was originally set for Jan. 27, but the hearing was postponed after Katrina Brown got a new attorney. The hearing was then moved to March, but it was delayed once more in May in response to defense motions. This current sentencing date was challenged earlier this month, citing the coronavirus pandemic, but the judge denied the request.