Former Rep. Corrine Brown sentenced to five years in prison

Former Rep. Corrine Brown was convicted of fraud back in May. Today she was sentenced to five years in prison. Two others involved in the fraud scheme were also given multi-year prison sentences. From the Florida Times-Union:

Former U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown was sentenced Monday to five years in federal prison for fraud and tax crimes that included raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for a sham charity.

Brown’s longtime chief of staff, Ronnie Simmons, was sentenced to 48 months in prison, and the charity’s founder, One Door for Education President Carla Wiley, was sentenced to 21 months…

In a lengthy statement read before announcing the sentences, [U.S. District Judge Timothy] Corrigan said he believed Brown and Simmons shared an equal amount of culpability in the conspiracy, while Wiley held the least amount.

Still, he noted the three each reaped the benefits of the illegal scheme, which he described as “especially shameless” since they took money that was supposed to provide educational opportunities for children and instead used it to bankroll a lavish lifestyle.

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

Last month, Brown threw herself at the mercy of the court during a sentencing hearing, asking for “mercy and compassion.” From First Coast News:

“It runs contrary to everything I am and everything I’ve ever done in my life.” Brown said in her statement. “Public service is an honor and a privilege.”

“I ask that you take into consideration all that I’ve done in my life, and I humbly ask for mercy and compassion. Thank you very much.”

That, and testimony from a series of character witnesses including Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, seems to have helped. Prosecutors had been seeking a 7-9 year sentence for Brown, citing some false and outrageous comments Brown made during the investigation, including the claim that her prosecution was racist.

Prosecutor Tysen Duva told the court based on her actions during the investigation and in the trial, she should receive the most prison time out of the three co-conspirators…

Duva said Brown was accustomed to receiving money she should not have received. She also lied about donations to colleges, churches and other entities.

He also argued that Brown has made ludicrous comments during the investigation, including a comment where she essentially said that had investigators not been looking into her case, the Pulse shooting in Orlando would never have happened. She also referred to the charges as “bogus” and “racist,” implying that she was targeted for her race in the case.

Duva objected to that notion by saying, “She was targeted because she committed fraud, not because she was black or white.”

Between 2012 and 2016, Brown, Simmons and Wiley raised $800,000 for their One Door education charity. During that time, the charity gave out just one scholarship for $1,200. Meanwhile, Brown was ordering her chief of staff, Simmons, to take cash out of the “charity” account and deposit it in her personal bank account. He made dozens of withdrawals, sometimes depositing all $800 (the maximum he could withdraw from the charity at a local ATM) into Brown’s account and sometimes keeping a portion of the cash for himself.

Here’s a flashback to an outraged Corrine Brown suggesting her case was being brought by the same people who failed to stop the Pulse nightclub shooting.