Brian Higgins. Photo by Jim Witmer

Dayton corruption probe: Higgins’ lawyer says feds have not provided proof he did anything wrong

A filing this week in U.S. District Court by the attorney of Brian Higgins alleges that the evidence available to defense attorneys so far suggest a governmental informant pocketed money and failed on multiple occasions to get Higgins to implicate himself.

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Higgins is charged with filing a fraudulent insurance claim after prosecutors say he received more than $100,000 to repair home damage from a leaking 600-gallon fish tank but used the money for his own benefit.

Higgins’ attorney Anthony Cicero alleges in the filing that prosecutors have not provided paperwork or recorded conversations between Higgins and the insurance company, Assurant, backing up the allegations.

“Accordingly, defendant is unable to understand the facts supporting the government’s general, non-specific, and undetailed allegations set forth in the indictment,” the filing says.

The filing argues that Higgins tried to do the repairs but was stymied from doing so by the unnamed confidential informant.

“If there is a scheme to defraud, it appears to be devised by the informant for his own personal gain and to the detriment of Mr. Higgins and the mortgagee,” Cicero wrote.

The filing claims that Higgins even called the police at one point to report the informant for refusing to pay subcontractors for the repairs.

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Cicero’s filing asks the court to order federal prosecutors to turn over a bill of particulars and all of the evidence against Higgins, which reportedly includes recorded conversations. It says that portions of conversations released to the defense so far — none of which has been made public — show Higgins repeatedly stating he had no intention of defrauding anyone.

Cicero claims the following portions of conversations were provided:

* On Oct. 20, 2014, “The informant asks Mr. Higgins if he is going to fix the house, and he responds by saying he would be stupid not to fix the house.”

* On April 7, 2015, “Mr. Higgins explains (to the informant) that all he wants to do is get his house fixed, and is exasperated by the informant using the insurance money for the informant’s personal gain or other projects.”

* On April 10, 2015, “The informant offers to provide Mr. Higgins with some cash. Mr. Higgins declines the offer.”

Federal prosecutors did not return a request for comment Tuesday. Nor did Higgins or his attorney.

When the indictments were unsealed in April, prosecutors said Higgins was caught in the net of an ongoing investigation into corruption in area politics.

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Unlike Higgins, the other three, all former elected officials, are charged with crimes related to contracts with the city of Dayton. They are former city commissioner Joey Williams, former city employee and Huber Heights councilman RoShawn Winburn and former state lawmaker Clayton Luckie. Luckie has pleaded guilty and the others are awaiting trial.

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