Describing the fraud as “shameless,” a federal judge Monday sentenced former Democratic Congresswoman Corrine Brown to five years in prison for her role in a scam that involved using charitable contributions for personal expenses and events.
The sentence, imposed by U.S. District Judge Timothy Corrigan, came after Brown was convicted in May on 18 felony counts. Corrigan also sentenced to prison Brown’s longtime chief of staff, Ronnie Simmons, and a woman who started the purported charity, Carla Wiley.
In a 25-page sentencing order, Corrigan said the One Door for Education charity, which was originally established to help children, was “operated as a criminal enterprise” by Brown, Simmons and Wiley. He detailed how the charity raised hundreds of thousands of dollars, which forensic accountants said was siphoned off in cash withdrawals and used for such things as sky box seats at an NFL game and a luxury box at a Beyonce concert.
“These defendants systematically looted One Door funds which otherwise would have been available to help deserving children,” Corrigan said in the sentencing order. “Just think of the good that could have been done with that money if it had been used for its proper purpose.”
The Florida Times-Union reported that Brown, who served 24 years in Congress until losing a re-election bid last year, will report to prison no earlier than Jan. 8. The Times-Union also reported that Brown’s attorney, James Smith, said she will appeal the sentence.
The sentencing was a final step in the downfall of Brown, 71, long an influential figure in Jacksonville politics and the city’s African-American community. The 12-term congresswoman, whose district stretched from Jacksonville to Orlando, was also a master of constituent services, using “Corrine Delivers” as a slogan to tout her ability to bring home projects and services.
In a sentencing memo filed last month, Brown’s attorney said she had been one of the “greatest soldiers” in the civil-rights movement. Smith requested that she receive probation and community service, rather than a prison sentence.
“Corrine Brown’s life from this point forward will be extremely difficult,” Smith wrote. “She will never hold public offense again. The stigma of her federal convictions will make it extremely difficult, if not impossible, for her to find productive and gainful employment. There is simply no reasonable basis to believe that she will ever commit another crime.”
In his order Monday, Corrigan said that he “seriously” considered the request for probation and community service, “but a sentence of probation for a member of Congress convicted of 18 counts involving mail, wire, and tax fraud would not be sufficient.”
Corrigan said Brown, one of the first black members of Congress from Florida since Reconstruction, was a “trailblazer who also has lifted up others.”
“But, having overcome all hurdles and risen to high office, Ms. Brown unfortunately succumbed to greed and an entitlement mentality,” Corrigan said.
The judge also sentenced Simmons to four years in prison and Wiley to 21 months. He said Wiley started the One Door for Education charity in 2011 to establish scholarships for students who were interested in becoming teachers, like Wiley’s mother.
“The defendants’ fraud was particularly shameless because it utilized a charity established to honor Ms. Wiley’s mother that was supposed to help disadvantaged children,” he said in the sentencing order. “Yet precious little of the hundreds of thousands of dollars donated to One Door was used for this purpose. Rather, One Door funds were primarily used to line the pockets of Ms. Wiley, Mr. Simmons and Ms. Brown or to fund events that mainly benefitted Ms. Brown, but did not help children.”
–Jim Saunders, News Service of Florida
5yrs what a joke scammed 800,000 and only one 1200 scholarship handed out.
Mouth of the South………..See ya.
What a scam that’s all she got , but what do you expect,she is a democrat
We are lucky she got any time
No one is above the law. No one. (except maybe Trump who, by the defintion set forth by his lawyers, can’t obstruct justice no matter what he say or does.)
Trump’s Foundation does the same things and he gets to be President, white privilege?
How could these public officials be soo greedy?
She made good pay as a Congresswoman and would have a great retirement secured as well… Why to risk is all by stealing from donated children funds?
And we are getting from bad to worse in our current POTUS finances without tax disclosures and not for just $800,000 but for millions and millions: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/donald-trump-emoluments_us_58409e01e4b017f37fe3c0ca
Lets hope that justice will be serve for all not just for Democrats.
Corrine Brown? It should be Con Brown.Just like crooked Hillary. Two peas in a pod.
Is Hillary and her foundation above the law?
I’m waiting…….there is no doubt she is going to claim she was discriminated against or profiled because she is black.
Since you can’t take your belongings into jail, does that mean she will have to take off the wig?
Rick Kang says
The SWAMP now has one less Greedy CROOK! A life lesson to other SWAMP CROOKS ( Be Good or Go to JAIL)!
Heading North says
She finally got a small dose of what she deserved! Good riddance!
Just the truth says
Sounds like Trump University.
I say jail all crooked politicians from both parties and see how much is left in the senate and congress. Do not exclude the current president and past presidents.
Lock her ass up! I don’t care who she is or what shes done. No special treatment! She screwed over a bunch of needy kids for her own gain so screw her
Guess she won’t be flying on Air Force One any time soon. A crook of the highest degree.
I wonder how much money the clinton crime syndicate has skimmed off their foundation?
I wonder how long this was going on before she was caught? Another Clinton wanna be.
She would have been a grain of sand on the beach compared to the Clinton’s crookedness.
She will still receive her hefty pension, so being unemployed when she gets out will not be a problem. It makes one wonder how much money is actuallt siphoned off other charitable organizations.
When I heard she was found guilty and given prison time I smiled. When she actually gets put in jail I will laugh. This is why we need outsiders elected to both parties. Replace them all….
Include current POTUS!
Justice has been served
Good riddance to an old guard crook
It’s about time they put one of these crooks in jail. There seems to be a lot of things that are similar in this case and Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation maybe we should look at Hillary and Bill!