Convicted on 18 counts, including participating in a conspiracy involving a fraudulent education charity, concealing material facts in required financial disclosure forms, and filing false tax returns, former U.S. Congresswoman Corrine Brown, 71, was sentenced Monday to serve five years in federal prison. The former Florida congresswoman and her co-conspirators stole more than $800,000 in donations to a fraudulent charity for impoverished children and instead used the money for personal expenses, including luxury boxes during an NFL game and a Beyoncé concert.
“This was a crime born out of entitlement and greed committed to ensure a lifestyle that was beyond their means,” U.S. District Judge Timothy Corrigan stated during Brown’s sentencing. “Ms. Brown was personally responsible for all or nearly all of the $833,000 that flowed into One Door because, without her clout, donors would not have given to One Door. Even if she did not know how all the money was being used, there was never any intent that the bulk of the money would be used for charitable purposes.”
While serving as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Brown began participating in a conspiracy and fraud scheme involving One Door for Education – Amy Anderson Scholarship Fund in 2012 along with her co-conspirators, Elias “Ronnie” Simmons, her chief of staff, and Carla Wiley, the president of the fraudulent charity, who both previously pleaded guilty to their roles in the scheme.
On Monday, Simmons was sentenced to 4 years in federal prison, 3 years of supervised release, and ordered to pay $544,137.25 in restitution. Wiley was sentenced to 21 months’ imprisonment and ordered to pay $452,515.87 in restitution.
On May 11, Brown was convicted on 18 counts of an indictment charging her with participating in a conspiracy involving a fraudulent education charity, concealing material facts on required financial disclosure forms, obstructing the due administration of the internal revenue laws and filing false tax returns. Stealing funds from the charitable organization, Brown and her co-conspirators used the vast majority of One Door donations to pay for events hosted by Brown or held in her honor, including a golf tournament in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida; lavish receptions during an annual conference in Washington, D.C.; the use of a luxury box during a concert in Washington, D.C.; and the use of a luxury box during a Jaguars-Redskins game.
“It is incredibly disappointing that an elected official, who took an oath year after year to serve others, would exploit the needs of children and abuse the charitable hearts of constituents to advance her own personal and political agendas, and deliver them with virtually nothing,” said FBI Jacksonville Special Agent in Charge Charles Spencer in a prepared statement after sentencing.
On Monday, Brown was sentenced to five years in federal prison and ordered to serve 3 years of supervised release. The septuagenarian was also ordered to pay $515,166.86 in restitution to her victims, including $62,650.99 in tax restitution.
Judge Corrigan ordered Brown to report to prison no earlier than January 8, and allowed her to remain free until beginning her paltry sentence next year.