Indicted fmr Dem Congresswoman, once flew with Obama, hobnobbed with Pelosi; now faces possible 357 years, $4.8 m

When Democrats fall, they fall hard.

Former Florida Congresswoman Corrine Brown found herself in federal court Thursday facing charges of diverting hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations to a non-profit organization for her own personal use.

Brown was perched on top of the world before her indictment. She was one of Secretary Hillary Clinton’s superdelegates, sat beside President Barack Obama on Air Force One and hobnobbed with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, according to the Washington Examiner.

But her days of wine and roses are over. She’s accused of 24 counts of pocketing scholarship funds earmarked for school children from the charitable organization One Door for Education.

If she’s found guilty on all charges, she can be sentenced to 357 years in prison and fined $4.8 million, according to the Examiner.

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The One Door funds allegedly went in one door and out the other.

She was indicted last year, along with her then-chief of staff, Elias “Ronnie” Simmons, and now that he’s already pleaded guilty to fraud charges as a result of the scheme, he’s expected to testify against her.

Clip via ABC affiliate WFTV Channel 9 News

“For seven months now, the fundamental premise of Ms. Brown’s defense was that she and Mr. Simmons are not guilty,” Brown’s attorney, James W. Smith III said, according to The Florida Times-Union.

And with Simmons’ plea weighing heavily on Brown’s defense, her attorney took a cue from Senate Democrats delaying approval of President Trump’s cabinet picks and asked for a 60-day delay in the trial.

That request was denied, but the judge left the door open just a crack. The Times-Union reported:

U.S. District Judge Timothy Corrigan rejected the request, but told Smith he could ask again as late as March 9. But to do that, he would need to document steps he has taken to prepare for trial and ways the problems created by Simmons’ plea change could be addressed with another two months to prepare.

 

Corrigan observed that last year both prosecution and defense had agreed to the March 16 trial date.

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“We pointed toward this date, and we should do what we can to meet this date,” the court said.

Brown has more than a passing acquaintance with controversy, the Examiner reported.

Shortly after she won election in 1992, the Federal Election Commission accused Brown of violating numerous campaign finance laws. Most notably, she accepted donations from foreign citizens and failed to report the use of a corporate plane. And that’s just the tip of the ethical iceberg.

A convenient rap sheet, put together last July by The Florida Times-Union, documents every allegation of wrongdoing brought against Brown during her 27-year career. Hollywood couldn’t have better scripted some of the highlights.

 

Brown represented Florida’s 5th Congressional district, which includes parts of Duval, Clay, Putnam, Alachua, Volusia, Marion, Lake, Seminole, and Orange counties. She was succeeded by Rep. Alfred Lawson Jr., who is also a member of the Democratic Party.

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