Ex-congresswoman Brown gets 5 years in prison for charity scheme

By Allen Cone  |  Dec. 4, 2017 at 1:31 PM
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Dec. 4 (UPI) -- Corrine Brown, a former longtime congresswoman from Florida, was sentenced to five years in prison Monday for her role in a charity fund scheme.

Brown appeared in Jacksonville, Fla., Monday, where U.S. District Judge Timothy Corrigan sentenced her on 18 counts that included mail, wire and tax fraud.

Prosecutors said the charity scheme involved $800,000 in diverted funds between 2012 and 2016 from a charity fund called the One Door for Education Foundation. The money was intended to provide educational scholarships to poor students.

Brown, a Democrat who served in the U.S. House between 1993 and 2013, was convicted in May of using money for lavish vacations, parties and shopping sprees for herself and associates -- while the charity gave out just one scholarship, worth $1,200.

"This was a crime born out of entitlement and greed committed to ensure a lifestyle that was beyond their means," Corrigan told Brown. "Just think of the good that could have been done with that money if it would have been used for its intended purpose."

"This is a sad day for everyone," the judge added. "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. That's what makes this all the more tragic."

The judge received 100 letters of support for Brown.

Brown also will serve three years of probation and must pay $250 per month in restitution after she's released from prison.

Ronnie Simmons, Brown's former chief of staff, was sentenced to 48 months and the charity's founder, Carla Wiley, was sentenced to 21 months as part of plea agreements.

In his testimony, Simmons said he kept little of the money for himself. Prosecutors said Wiley, who was Simmons' former girlfriend, stole more than $100,000.

Corrigan ordered Brown to report to prison no earlier than Jan. 8.

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