By Keith Burton – GCN 8/5/09 3:13 p.m. Updated 4:40 p.m.
Four more counts have been added to the federal indictments issued against former Gulfport Mayor Brent Warr and his wife Laura. A federal grand jury late Tuesday afternoon issued the new indictments against the couple. The new indictments are in addition to the 16 count indictment issued in January for Katrina and insurance fraud. The new counts add mortgage and bank fraud to their troubles. (GCN file photo above right: Laura and Brent Warr photographed in January 2009 outside the U.S. District Courthouse)
In the latest four counts, the government details a scheme by the Warrs of providing false information to obtain a homeowners loan from Countrywide Home Loans Inc and from Gulf Coast Community Bank for their beachfront home.
The government alleges that Brent and Laura Warr "provided a false and fraudulent Uniform Residential Loan Application to obtain a mortgage loan," and that the couple "provided false and fraudulent information regarding the status of property located at 11142 Coleman Road, Gulfport, Mississippi, purporting to be their primary residence, at a time when defendants had a commercial lease on said property to others utilizing the property as a personal care home..."
The new charges get into the Warr's efforts to obtain financing for the property back in 2003 and allege a continuing conspiracy that continues "through the date of this indictment," reads the indictment in Count 20.
The full indictment including the latest counts are viewable online by clicking on the link below this article.
In addition to the new indictments is an issue that has been sealed by the court and unavailable for viewing. The latest indictments mentions that the Warrs were assisted by those known and unknown to the grand jury, which may be part of the sealed information.
The indictments stem from the Warr’s receipt of a Homeowner Grant from the Mississippi Development Authority first revealed by GulfCoastNews.com in a news report in January 2008. The grant program required that recipients both owned and occupied their home at the time of the Aug. 29, 2005 hurricane. The government also charged the couple with filing false insurance claims. The Warrs have previously denied the allegations and a trial is set for September 8.
Meanwhile, defense attorneys for the Warrs submitted motions August 3, asking the court to restrict some information that the prosecutors could use in the upcoming trial. Warr’s attorneys want to block any statements regarding the financial status of the Warrs and to prevent the government from offering testimony over the definitions of “Occupied” and “Primary Residence,” which stem from the Homeowner Grant application process, and are at issue in the case.
Government prosecutors have not yet responded to the motions, nor have they been decided by the judge in the case. But with the latest indictments, there is a possibility that the defense could ask for a trial extension. A judge would also have to approve that as well.
GCN will have more on this and the latest indictments in a subsequent report.
UPDATE 08/12/09: The Warrs are expected to appear in federal court today for arraignment on the latest charges. It is expected that the couple will plead not guilty.
Latest Warr Indictment - GCN .pdf file (Ed: The newest counts are toward the bottom of the document.)