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Warr Trial Update:
Judge Rules that Government Prosecutors Can Use Warr Financial Information in Trial

by Keith Burton - GCN 9/22/09 

Federal Prosecutors will be allowed to present financial information about former Gulfport Mayor Brent Warr and his wife Laura  at their upcoming Katrina, insurance and bank fraud trial early next month, this is according to documents filed Tuesday in federal court in Gulfport. But the financial information must be shown by prosecutors that it is relevant to the case.

In pleadings by the Warr defense team, the Warrs had sought the court to block the government from presenting information regarding their financial condition in connection to their receipt of federal hurricane assistance following Katrina. The attorneys argued in part that the assistance was provided per conditions of the Stafford Act and did not have financial eligibility requirements and was irrelevant to the indictment.

(GCN File photo right: Laura and Brent Warr)

Federal prosecutors contend that the Warr's financial situation is relevant because the Defendants allegedly misrepresented their income in an attempt to obtain a home mortgage. U.S. District Court Judge Walter Gex III agreed in part.

Judge Gex ruled Tuesday saying:

"The Court has determined that certain financial information may be relevant to this case. For example, the failure to disclose certain information to an appropriate agency may be relevant to establish an intent to defraud that agency." Gex wrote.

Judge Gex did provide some relief for the defense in his ruling and restricted the prosecution from a "wholesale introduction of the Warr's financial worth."

“In this case, the Court finds that the wholesale introduction of the Warrs’ financial worth without establishing the relevancy of that information should not be allowed," said Gex in his ruling.

In additional actions by the defense, attorneys for Laura Warr issued a federal subpoena to FEMA asking for a witness to answer questions regarding FEMA's emergency assistance programs. The subpoena also asks for a broad number of FEMA records. The subpoena was presented Tuesday at the FEMA Biloxi headquarters office on Popps Ferry Road north of Pass Road.

The Warrs are facing a 20-count indictment that stems from a government investigation into the couple's receipt of a Mississippi Development Authority homeowners grant, first reported by GCN, as well as questions regarding the couple's insurance losses for property alleged destroyed by Katrina. There are also charges that question how the Warr's  initially financed the purchase the property from the Armed Forces Retirement Home.

Both Brent and Laura Warr have pleaded not guilty to the charges in the indictment. The trial is set to begin Oct. 5 at 10:00 a.m.

More Information:

Judge Gex's Ruling on Finances - .pdf file

Warr Defense Subpoena to FEMA - .pdf file

Warr Trial Update: Plea Change Deadline Passes, Judge Denies Defense More Govt. Records - GCN 9/19/09

Former Gulfport Mayor Brent Warr and Wife Laura Face Additional Charges - GCN  8/5/09

Warr Indictment - GCN .pdf file  (Ed: The newest counts are toward the bottom of the document.)

GCN Warr Archive

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