GULFPORT — Prosecutors must reveal the types of false statements they have accused Mayor Brent Warr and his wife, Laura, of making to secure FEMA relief after Hurricane Katrina, U.S. Magistrate Judge John M. Roper ruled during a hearing Tuesday.
Roper decided the Warrs are entitled to know the “categories” of information they allegedly falsified for their beachfront house, such as repairs, living expenses or personal property destruction. Roper ordered the information turned over within 10 days.
Roper also said prosecutors must give the Warrs the names of “co-conspirators” and “aiders and abetters” mentioned throughout a 16-count indictment that charges them with Katrina and insurance fraud. The names are due 30 days before trial.
Laura Warr’s attorney, Frank Trapp of Jackson, requested the details from prosecutors. He said the information was essential to prepare Laura Warrs’ defense. Brent Warr’s attorney, Joe Sam Owen of Gulfport, joined the request.
“We’re left with a general allegation that a false statement was made,” Trapp told Roper, “but we don’t know the substance and we don’t know how to prepare for that.”
Trapp also pushed for the names of co-conspirators, saying inspectors, forensic engineers, contractors, suppliers, lawyers and others were involved with the Warr house in Katrina’s aftermath. He said he feared how potential defense witnesses might react if they found out shortly before trial they were considered co-conspirators.
“That would intimidate these witnesses,” Trapp said, “and they wouldn’t be able to cooperate.”