Former Democratic Congresswoman and poster child for extreme gerrymandering Corrine Brown was sentenced Monday to a five year prison term for her role in a charity fraud scheme.
As the Tampa Bay Times reported, Brown was accused of running a sham charitable fund called “One Door for Education Foundation,” which claimed to support scholarships for poor students. According to prosecutors, One Door raised more than $800,000 from 2012 to 2016, but only distributed one measly $1,200 scholarship during that entire time.
Instead, the funds were used to fund a lavish lifestyle for Brown, her former chief of staff Elias “Ronnie” Simmons, and the charity’s executive director, Carla Wiley. Prosecutors presented evidence of luxurious travel, parties, and shopping excursions that were paid for from the charity’s accounts.
Both Simmons and Wiley accepted plea deals and testified against Brown. In addition to fraud, Brown was charged with lying on her tax returns and congressional financial disclosures. Back in May, a federal jury found Brown guilty of 18 of the 22 charges against her.
Simmons and Wiley were also sentenced on Monday, to four years in prison plus three years probation, and one year in prison followed by three years probation, respectively.
All three were instructed to turn themselves in on January 8th to begin their sentences.
Brown was first elected to Congress in 1992 from a then newly-created district that sprawled from Jacksonville all the way south through the Pine Hills area of Orlando. After the Fair Districts Amendment was passed, Brown launched an unsuccessful legal challenge to protect her gerrymandered district. Forced to campaign in a largely new district in 2016 — plus the July 2016 indictment for the One Door scheme — she lost in the Democratic primary to former state senator Al Lawson.
Photo by Kendrick Meek campaign via Flickr.
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