Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Ex-Chairman of JaxPort Wants Case Dropped; Nelson's Lawyer Claims the Prosecutors Abused the Grand Jury Process

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Ex-Chairman of JaxPort Wants Case Dropped; Nelson's Lawyer Claims the Prosecutors Abused the Grand Jury Process

Article excerpt

Byline: TIMOTHY J. GIBBONS and PAUL PINKHAM

An attorney for former Jacksonville Port Authority Chairman Tony Nelson said the prosecutor pursuing the case against Nelson abused the grand jury process, particularly during his questioning of former Mayor John Delaney.

In the motion filed this week asking for the criminal fraud case against Nelson to be dismissed, Jacksonville lawyer Curtis Fallgatter said Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Devereaux introduced "irrelevant" material to the grand jury.

In questions to Delaney and others, Fallgatter's motion said, Devereaux revealed Nelson gambles and that he "was seen at the Ponte Vedra Inn in the company of two women not his wife."

Fallgatter also criticizes Nelson's former attorney for enlisting Delaney's help in trying to convince Nelson to plead guilty to conspiracy in exchange for a five-year sentencing cap.

The lawyer isn't named, but Nelson was previously represented by former Florida Bar President Hank Coxe of Jacksonville.

At the same time, Fallgatter said, evidence that would have refuted the government's theory of guilt wasn't presented to grand jurors, including a written presentation prepared by Delaney arguing Nelson didn't engage in criminal activity.

Fallgatter, a former federal prosecutor himself, says Devereaux intimidated Delaney before his testimony by telling him the grand jury would indict Nelson on mail fraud, an indication, Fallgatter contends, that Delaney's testimony was irrelevant to the outcome.

Delaney took issue Friday with Fallgatter's characterization of the events.

"I was not intimidated in the least, and Mr. Devereaux was nothing if not polite, respectful and deferential," said Delaney, a lawyer who is now president of the University of North Florida.

As for Coxe, Delaney said there was nothing inappropriate in the conversation between the two men, although he declined to say if the plea deal was discussed. …

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