Jail for Fla. Rep. Who Blasted Feds for Investigating Her Instead of Orlando Terrorist
The disgraced Florida congresswoman who suggested federal agents could have prevented the Orlando terrorist attack if they weren’t preoccupied investigating her is headed to prison. This week a federal judge in Jacksonville sentenced Democrat Corrine Brown, who served 12 terms in Congress, to five years in jail for fraud and tax crimes involving an $833,000 phony education charity. In a 24-count federal indictment, prosecutors called the fake charity (One Door) Brown’s “personal slush fund.” The veteran legislator used her position as a congresswoman to solicit charitable donations that she said would give scholarships to poor, minority students. In May a jury convicted the crooked lawmaker of 18 felonies.
The indictment was issued weeks after an ISIS operative gunned down dozens of people at an Orlando nightclub and the congresswoman went on a tirade outside the federal courthouse that she proclaimed was built “without minority participation” as if that was relevant to her case. “I represent Orlando,” Brown said at the time. “These are the same agents that was not able to do a thorough investigation of the agent and we ended up with 50 people dead and over 58 people injured,” she said referring to the massacre carried out by terrorist Omar Mateen in June, 2016. “Same district! Same Justice Department! Same agents!” Brown also accused the prosecution of being racially motivated and wrote this on her blog: “I’m not the first black elected official to be persecuted and, sad to say, I won’t be the last.” The indictment slammed Brown with multiple counts of mail and wire fraud, conspiracy, obstruction and filing of false tax returns. The fallen lawmaker also played the race card by comparing her indictment to fatal police shootings of black men that ignited nationwide civil unrest.
Brown isn’t the only one headed to prison. Her longtime chief of staff, Ronnie Simmons, was sentenced to 48 months and the president of Brown’s phony nonprofit, Carla Wiley, received 21 months in jail. In 2016, Wiley pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and as part of the plea agreed to cooperate with investigators. Brown abused her status as a congresswoman to solicit charitable donations from corporate entities that she “knew by virtue of her position in the U.S. House of Representatives,” according to federal authorities. The money was used to pay for lavish receptions, luxury boxes for a Beyonce concert and a professional football game, repairs to Brown’s car and several vacations. More than $735,000 of the charitable contributions went to pay a close family member for a job in Brown’s office that involved no work, the indictment states.
At this week’s sentencing hearing the judge, Timothy Corrigan, said the defendants knowingly participated in a shameless conspiracy. “This was a crime born out of entitlement and greed committed to ensure a lifestyle that was beyond their means,” Judge Corrigan said. “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.” A Jacksonville newspaper called Brown’s sentencing “a remarkable defrocking of the once-powerful and garrulous” Democrat.”
In Congress Brown was known for getting large campaign contributions from the industries she helped regulate. She sat on the House Transportation Committee and transportation industries—railroads, trucking companies and transportation unions—accounted for three of her top four industry donors. Back in 1998 the House Ethics Committee investigated Brown involving several issues, including a $10,000 check she got from a Baptist official in legal trouble and a pricey car her daughter received from one of the congresswoman’s millionaire Florida pals embroiled in a bribery scandal. Brown’s supporters can rest easy that on her tombstone it will not say “felon, guilty.” At least that is what the corrupt lawmaker said in an interview with a Jacksonville news outlet days before her trial started. She also complained that she had to sell her beach house and tap into retirement money to pay for her defense.