A federal judge sentenced former Florida Congresswoman Corrine Brown to five years imprisonment and three years probation on corruption charges Monday.
Stating it was “a sad day for everyone,” U.S. District Judge Timothy Corrigan continued to address Brown and the court after passing sentence:
“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.”
After the sentence was handed down, Ms. Brown wept and appealed for mercy.
Charged with 22 counts of concealing income on financial filings submitted to the U.S. House of Representatives, filing false tax returns and conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, Brown was convicted in May on 18 counts for her role in a scheme in which she and two co-conspirators defrauded donors to a sham charity and used the contributions to bestow a lavish lifestyle and for personal expenses.
The two others, former staffer Ronnie Simmons and his ex-girlfriend Carla Wiley, were also convicted and sentenced to 48 and 21 months imprisonment, respectively, on Monday.
According to prosecutors, over a four-year period between 2012–2016, Brown collected donations for the non-profit group, One Door for Education Foundation, and arranged for the contributions to be deposited into a hidden slush fund.
Prosecutors contend the non-profit collected over $800,000 in donations, but less than $1,200 was granted in scholarships. Prosecutors also say One Door for Education Foundation was never registered as a non-profit group.
A pre-sentencing report had recommended Brown serve between seven and nine years in jail.
Brown, 71, who had served Florida’s 3rd and 5th congressional districts since 1992, was defeated in her Democratic primary bid to return to office in 2016.
Attorneys for Brown said they plan to appeal the sentence.
[Roll Call] [Florida Times-Union] [Photo courtesy WESH 2 Orlando]