Ex-Representative, Dem. Corrine Brown Get 5 Years for Fraud
Corrine Brown, a former U.S. Representative from Florida was sentenced Monday to five years in prison for fraud and other crimes related to a purported charity for poor students that she used as a personal slush fund.
Brown, a Democrat, was convicted by a federal jury in May of this year on 18 of the 22 charges against her, which included fraud and lying on her tax returns and congressional financial disclosures. She was ordered to turn herself in to prison authorities in January. Her attorney said she plans to appeal the sentence.
Brown was one of the first three African-Americans elected to Congress from Florida since Reconstruction, obtaining her seat in 1992. During her nearly 25-year career, Brown represented a district that stretched from Jacksonville to Orlando.
She was accused of siphoning money from the One Door for Education Foundation for personal use. Prosecutors said the pattern of fraud by Brown and her top aide included using hundreds of thousands of dollars from the foundation for lavish parties, trips and shopping excursions. She also used her high profile to lure donors to fundraisers, abusing her power, and was unrepentant when faced with evidence that contradicted her claims of innocence.
As reported by the Orlando Sentinel:
Brown’s former chief of staff, Elias “Ronnie” Simmons, and One Door’s executive director, Carla Wiley, accepted plea deals and testified against Brown. They were also sentenced Monday. Simmons was given four years in prison, followed by three years of probation, and Wiley received a one-year, nine-month sentence followed by three years of probation.
They, too, were ordered to report for prison in January.
Federal prosecutors said the three used One Door to bring in more than $800,000 between 2012 and 2016 through donations and events that included a high-profile golf tournament at TPC Sawgrass. The Virginia-based One Door gave out only one scholarship — for $1,200 — to an unidentified person in Florida, according to court documents.
Simmons told jurors that his boss ordered him to take cash and checks from One Door’s account on dozens of occasions and deposit the money into the congresswoman’s personal account.
Brown testified in her own defense, saying she was left in the dark about the details of One Door’s money. She blamed the theft on Simmons.
Brown made no comment as she left the courthouse in a black Mercedes-Benz, but still maintains her innocence.
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