Warr asks for Katrina fraud trial to be pushed back to summer

By Brad Kessie - bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - On the same day Brent Warr announced he would not seek re-election, the Gulfport mayor's personal attorney filed a motion in United States District Court to try and postpone his April 6 Katrina fraud trial.

This motion is not a surprise. Eleven days ago, Warr's attorney warned federal prosecutors that he would ask for a continuance.

In his request to delay the trial, defense attorney Joe Sam Owen wrote, "Due to the number of counts involved in the indictment, the complexity of the factual issues, the volume of documents... and the esoteric nature of certain legal issues, a continuance is absolutely necessary."

Mayor Warr's defense team would like the trial to be reset for July or August.

Brent Warr and his wife Laura are accused of making false statements to FEMA to get Katrina grant money. The government questions whether the family's beachfront home was the Warr's primary residence when Katrina tore it apart. The 16 count indictment also links the Warrs to wire fraud and mail fraud. They allegedly filed claims with their insurance company that misrepresented where their personal property was then they lost it during the hurricane. The total amount of money involved in this case is more than $220,000.

Laura Warr's defense attorney filed his own motion Monday to get more information from the government about the false statements Mrs. Warr allegedly made to FEMA agents.

Mrs. Warr's camp also wants to know who the co-conspirators were who supposedly aided the couple. The grand jury's indictment does not name the people who allegedly helped the Warrs commit Katrina fraud.

"The defense is entitled to identify each such person in order to prepare a defense in the case," wrote Frank Trapp, Mrs. Warr's attorney. "Moreover, the alleged participants in criminal conduct present a unique, onerous burden in preparing a defense since the government will contend such persons act(s) and statement(s) are binding on Laura Warr."

A hearing on both motions has not been set.