Posted: 3:30 pm Thursday, May 11th, 2017
By Eric "Hollywood" Davis STAR 94.5
Former Congresswoman Corrine Brown has been found guilty of fraud and tax evasion.
Brown, 70, a Democrat who represented a district that at one point stretched from Jacksonville down into Orlando, was on trial for funneling money from a charity called One Door for Education into her personal accounts.
There were 22 counts against her, including counts of wire and mail fraud, tax evasion, and scheming to hide facts and filing false income tax returns. She was found guilty of 18 of the counts. But she pleaded not guilty, blaming Ronnie Simmons, her former chief of staff for stealing.
She watched the judge read each verdict with no visible reaction.
The prosecution says Brown raised more than $800,000 for One Door for Education, a charity that was supposed to give scholarships to poor students, from 2012 to 2015. But they say the money was a personal slush fund.
The charity purportedly only gave out one scholarship of $1,200 to an unidentified person in Florida.
Brown’s attorneys said she did raise the money, but did not know the charity was fake. They say she also did not know Simmons was putting the money into her account and taking money for himself.
Simmons and the charity’s president pleaded guilty after federal indictments for misusing the charity’s funds. Both testified against Brown.
On Wednesday the judge in the case excused a juror who made comments about Brown and “higher beings.” The juror was replaced by an alternate and deliberations had to start all over again.
Brown came to Congress in 1993. Her district represented minorities from Jacksonville down into Orlando.
When the district was redrawn by the courts, Brown sued, saying the new, more compact district, which only represented counties in northeast Florida, would not properly represent minorities.
She was arrested for fraud in July 2016. Brown lost the Democratic primary to Al Lawson in August. He went on to win her seat in November.
Much of Brown’s former Orlando voters are now represented in a new district by Congresswoman Val Demings.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.