Former U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown has been sentenced to 5 years in federal prison by a Jacksonville federal judge.
Its a shocking sentence that caps off a significant and stunning fall from grace for a woman whose motto has long been, “Corrine Delivers”– due to Ms. Brown’s well-known success in bringing federal funding for infrastructure projects to Florida.
But federal prosecutors say Ms. Brown was also bringing funding to her own bank account–on the strength of a phony charity they say Brown siphoned funds from.
Brown allegedly sought out contributions to fund the charity from a network of wealthy and influential contacts she had amassed after years in Congress and the Florida Legislature.
Most of the people who gave Brown money seemed uninterested in seeing her carted off to prison, even though prosecutors claim Brown and her cohorts used those solicited funds for personal expenses, island vacations and even Beyonce concert tickets.
Ms. Brown is a well-known figure around her former district that includes Jacksonville and Gainesville.
Ms. Brown is also well-known for her wigs.
A number of character witnesses testified about Ms. Brown’s many years of dedication and good deeds performed in her district. The judge, Matthew Corrigan, said he was “impressed” by the testimony, but decided to send Ms. Brown to prison anyway because he said the crime was all about “greed”, and abuse of her position as a congresswoman.
“Just think of the good that could have been done with that money if it would have been used for its intended purpose”, Corrigan said.
Donors to the charity said they thought the funds would be used to promote cultural and recreational opportunities for inner city children.
Brown lost her reelection bid last year.
Ms. Brown’s lawyers have vowed to appeal the sentence, which is a lot harsher than many people expected it to be.
Ms. Brown, 71 years old, was ordered by Corrigan to report to prison by Jan. 8, 2018.
Ms. Brown’s co-defendants, who rolled over on Brown in hopes of lightening their own sentences, are also going to the pen: Former chief Brown aide Ronnie Simmons received 4 years and his former flame, Carla Wiley, got 21 months in prison.
All 3 had sought probation.
Ms. Brown’s jury was comprised of 7 Whites; 2 Latinos, and 3 African Americans.
A White male juror was dismissed after he said the Holy Spirit told him Ms. Brown was innocent.
An appeal may be Ms. Brown’s last stand before incarceration, and a successful appeal bond request could take several years, according to her attorney–which could potentially keep her out of prison.