History-making Congresswoman Corrine Brown given harsh prison sentence

History-making Congresswoman Corrine Brown given harsh prison sentence
Former Florida Rep. Corrine Brown. Photo: Facebook/Corrine Brown

The first African American to be elected to Congress from the state of Florida since Reconstruction ended her long political career in complete shambles, in shame, and with a long prison stint.

Former Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Jacksonville, was sentenced to five years in prison and three years probation after being convicted on 18 of 22 corruption charges. The former congresswoman was convicted in May of taking money from donors to a fake charity and using it for herself, according to the Florida Times-Union

The charges stem from her role in a federal corruption conspiracy that involved stealing about $800K from a fake education charity for needy children called the One Door for Education Foundation. The disgraced congresswoman’s chief of staff, Ronnie Simmons, was slapped with 48 months in prison, while the founder of the charity, One Door for Education president Carla Wiley, received a 21-month sentence for her role.

U.S. District Judge Timothy Corrigan said that Brown, 71, had used her position to abuse the public trust and carried out a criminal conspiracy.

This is a sad day for everyone,” said Corrigan. “I was impressed with all the outpouring of support for you, and I think it’s a tribute to all the work you’ve done over the years. That’s what makes this all the more tragic.

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

Brown’s attorney said that she plans to appeal the sentence.

The colorful Brown was known for her campaign slogan of “Corrine Delivers,” a reference to her ability to drum up funding for her district.

After serving 12 years, Brown lost re-election in 2016 to her once unassailable position as the representative of the Jacksonville region after federal prosecutors announced the 22-count indictment in 2016. The U.S. Department of Justice accused the congresswoman and others of using the One Door for Education charity as a slush fund. Brown denied those allegations and accused the prosecutors of timing the charges to help defeat her. 

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