Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Feds Seized Cash from Nelson, Court Filing Says; Still, the Record Gives No Indication of What the FBI Is Investigating

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Feds Seized Cash from Nelson, Court Filing Says; Still, the Record Gives No Indication of What the FBI Is Investigating

Article excerpt

Byline: MARY KELLI PALKA

Federal investigators seized $139,000 in cash last year from a bank account belonging to former Jacksonville Port Authority vice chairman Tony Nelson, according to a motion filed this month in federal civil court.

It is the first public court record that references the investigation of Nelson, whose economic development businesses were raided last year by the FBI. Nelson resigned his unpaid post with the port authority in July after intense publicity surrounding the case.

The court filing didn't say specifically what the FBI is investigating or why the money was seized.

Court records show the U.S. Attorney's Office received a three-month extension - until June 8 - to either file an indictment or file paperwork to start a civil forfeiture to keep the money. Additional extensions in forfeiture-related cases are common.

In most of those cases, the government has to show the money is either proceeds of criminal activity or was involved in some criminal activity, said Steve Cole, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Nelson couldn't be reached for comment. His attorney, David Barksdale, said although there is an agreement to extend the time for the government to initiate formal forfeiture proceedings, if it decides to do so, there's no agreement from Nelson to give up the money.

Barksdale wouldn't say if the government seized anything else from Nelson.

In April, the FBI raided Nelson's businesses and firms that had contracts with the port. Since then, the port ended a contract with one of the companies.

The FBI hasn't commented on the nature of its case. But a Times-Union investigation revealed that Nelson used his position at the port to help at least one company get contracts with the agency.

The FBI seized the money from Nelson's Wachovia Bank checking account on Oct. 16, according to a motion filed by the U.S. Attorney's Office in civil court on March 6.

Nelson and a company formed by Nelson and his wife, Janice, both filed claims for the money on Dec. 8, according to the motion.

The company, Ja-Ash, was formed in 1996 and is still active. Janice Nelson is now the only officer listed on the state's corporation records. …

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