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Corrine Brown sentenced to 5 years in prison

Former area Congresswoman sentenced in Jacksonville this morning

December 04, 2017 - 7:20 am

JACKSONVILLE  — A federal judge sentenced former U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown to 5 years in prison, and 3 years supervised release, for fraud and other charges related to a purported charity for poor students that she used as a personal slush fund.

The 71-year-old Brown, a Democrat who was one of the first three African-Americans to be elected to Congress from Florida since Reconstruction, was facing life in prison.

Her two co-defendants, Brown’s former Chief of Staff Ronnie Simmons, and Carla Wiley, the president of the sham charity they funneled money through, have been sentenced as well. Simmons will serve 48 months in jail and Wiley has been sentenced to 21 months in prison with 3-year supervised release.

All will have to make monetary restitution as well.

A federal jury in May convicted Brown of 18 of the 22 charges against her, which included fraud, lying on her tax returns and on her congressional financial disclosures.

Prosecutors outlined a pattern of fraud by Brown and her top aide that included using hundreds of thousands of dollars from the One Door for Education Foundation for lavish parties, trips and shopping excursions.

Federal prosecutors said the three used One Door to bring in more than $800,000 between 2012 and 2016, including a high-profile golf tournament at TPC Sawgrass. The Virginia-based One Door only gave out 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 Brown’s personal account.

Brown testified in her own defense, saying she was left in the dark about the details of One Door’s money, and blamed the theft on Simmons.

Her attorneys argued for leniency at a hearing last month, saying Brown’s community work should mitigate her crimes.

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