Former Rep. Corrine Brown has been sentenced to five years in prison for pocketing hundreds of thousands of dollars from donors who believed their money was going to charity.
Judge Timothy Corrigan spent the better part of three weeks evaluating the proper sentence for Brown, Simmons, and Wiley; he noted that he received "hundreds of letters" on Brown's behalf before and after the November sentencing hearing, and lauded Brown's defense for making "good arguments on Brown's behalf".
"A sentence of probation for a member of Congress convicted of 18 counts would not be sufficient", Corrigan said.
Brown, who in 1992 became one of the first three African-Americans elected to Congress from Florida since Reconstruction, was convicted by a federal jury in May on 18 of the 22 charges against her, which included fraud and lying on her tax returns and congressional financial disclosures.
Corrigan did not believe this explanation - though he did grant Brown a lighter sentence than the maximum for the crimes, which ranged up to nine years. The judge also cited her history of overcoming obstacles as a black woman in the South as she built a trailblazing career.
The slogan of purported educational charity One Door for Education was "we make your educational dreams a reality".
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"It is a sad day for everyone". "I was impressed with all the outpouring of support for you, and I think it's a tribute to all the work you've done over the years". During a career that spanned almost 25 years, Brown represented a district that included Jacksonville.
That said, Corrigan did not downplay the nature of the "shameless fraud" committed by the One Door 3, nor the gravity of "lining the pockets" of the co-conspirators with over $833,000 in misbegotten funds between 2012 and 2015.
Brown's former chief of staff, Elias "Ronnie" Simmons, and One Door's executive director Carla Wiley accepted plea deals and testified against Brown. "She also let them down by selfishly neglecting her duty to pay an honest tax".
The prison sentence marks the coup de grâce for Brown's political career, which at one time was lauded for its historic, trailblazing achievement. They too were ordered to report for prison in January. According to trial evidence, despite raising over $800,000 in donations, One Door was associated with only two scholarships totaling $1,200 that were awarded to students to cover expenses related to attending a college or university.
Darker affirmed in her own guard, saying she was left oblivious about the subtle elements of One Door's cash, and faulted the robbery for Simmons.