J5 speaks after not guilty verdict in federal court

COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) – Jabari Edwards and Antwann Richardson were cleared on all 34 charges associated with fraud and money laundering of PPP relief funds through Columbus-based company J5.

What began as a press conference to discuss the acquittal, quickly turned into a celebration that could be compared to a church service.

“I know that regardless of what happens, God doesn’t play about His children. (Yes) He doesn’t play about his children. (‘Sholl don’t),” said Edwards.

A sermon with a proverb about overcoming adversity and challenges.

“And no matter what they throw at you, he always got a ram in the bush. (Amen),” said Edwards.

Wilbur Colom led the J5 team of attorneys.

He said the investigation into Jabari Edwards and Antwann Richardson began long before the allegations of mishandling of COVID relief funds.

“An extreme faction in Columbus opposed Mr. Edwards and others involved in city office with whom he associated, enlisted federal investigators to initiate an unjustified probe of Mr. Edwards and his businesses. Initially framed as an inquiry into Mr. Edwards and his contracts with the city, this investigative review yielded no evidence of wrongdoing. Then without cause, the agents continued the lawful surveillance of Mr. Edwards’ businesses and accounts. They spent two years observing his actions. Upon learning of Mr. Edwards’s EID and PPP loan application, these investigators exploited the nature and vagueness of SBA regulations to bring these charges against Mr. Edwards and Mr. Richardson. They had a person they wanted, not a crime,” said Colom.

Edwards had some sharp words for a local newspaper, accusing them of launching a biased campaign against him and his companies.

“I firmly believe that the corrupt discriminatory investigation was partly fueled by the constant negative portrayal of me and my companies by the Commercial Dispatch. This biased narrative commenced when I was lawfully secured of a project management contract with the city of Columbus. This flood of negativity persisted for years,” said Edwards.

A lot of questions remain unanswered, such as what is the status of the company, will Edwards and Richardson get their assets back, and will J5 take legal action against the federal agencies Edwards described as corrupt and discriminatory?

We will keep you updated.

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