Lynn Haven case turns to the east
The Lynn Haven federal courthouse bucket full of government bribery and fraud allegations,
all connected to Hurricane Michael money, spilled into Gulf County last week.
But “weather” it will leave a stain, or come out in the wash,
that’s going to be for law enforcement and Lady Justice to decide.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Kunz on April 16 sent the
city of Port. St. Joe, a subpoena commanding that its custodian of records appear
Sept. 8 to testify at a grand jury proceeding. A second subpoena makes a similar demand of Gulf County Clerk of Courts Becky Norris.
“In lieu of personal appearance,”
it reads, the documentation is to be forwarded to FBI Special Agent Lawrence
The documentation Kunz wants concerns work performed by GAC
Contractors, Inc., a Panama City construction company and road builder that did
major Hurricane Michael recovery work; and by AshBritt, Inc., a three-decade
old emergency management and disaster response contractor, dating back to
Hurricane Andrew, based in Deerfield Beach.
This document request includes, but is not limited to, “bids,
quotes, contracts, proposals, agreements,
purchase orders, invoices with supporting documentation, reports, timesheets,
sign-in sheets, pictures, canceled checks, emails, text messages, reports from consultants
and documents” performed by these vendors.
The state attorney’s office wants to review all it can,
including bids, contracts and invoices, about “any and all projects submitted to
FEMA regarding Hurricane Michael debris cleanup, reduction and removal.”
It’s not just paper documents the federal government wants
to see. The subpoena makes clear the request includes “emails, text messages, instant
messages, messages using a messaging app, chat logs and correspondence.”
The subpoena makes a request for invoices, dating back to Oct.
1, 2016 from three other named parties – County Attorney Jeremy Novak dba Novak
Law Group, County Attorney J. Adam Albritton dba J. Adam Albritton-Attorney at
Law; and from Constitution Title., LLC.
Novak has been the sole managing member of Constitution
Title LLC since it was formed in Feb. 2013.
“Lynn Haven and GAC, that’s what’s it about,” said Ethan
Way, who has been engaged as special counsel for Gulf County since Sept. 1,
2020, 10 days after Albritton stepped down in his limited role doing government
consulting and lobbying work for the county. On August 20, 2020, he had been charged as a defendant in the Lynn Haven corruption case.
“I don’t think it has much or anything to do with Gulf County,”
Way said of last week’s subpoenas. “Albritton had been city attorney for Port
St. Joe and did limited work for Gulf County. This is primarily about Lynn Haven;
none of his actions had anything to do with Gulf County.”
On Dec. 2, 2019, Albritton stepped down from his Port St.
Joe city attorney post, writing that following Hurricane Michael in Oct. 2018,
the demands on his time had increased immensely, and he no longer could provide
hands-on support from his office in Bay County.
“There is nothing about Adam Albritton’s representation of the
county that we have any concerns about,” Way said. “We’re not Lynn Haven,
that’s a different county and a different municipality. Lawyers do
lots of different stuff for different people, and people request public records
all the time.
“It just sounds bad because the FBI asked,” he said. “They’ll
get all the records. We’re going to cooperate with the FBI, we’ll turn over all
the records. There is nothing to hide, it is a dry hole.”
“Adam Albritton served in a limited role for the county,” Way
said. “He was special counsel who dealt with some legislative affairs and he
handled some hearings.”
The work Albritton handled on Gulf County’s behalf “brought,
we think, over $60 million worth of benefit to the county,” Way said. “(His) political
connections as special consultant attorney was well worth it. The county did
very, very well.”
Way was also praiseworthy of Novak. “Jeremy Novak is a very, very fine attorney and Gulf County is lucky to have him,” he said.