Dem Rep. Brown Stole Millions From Children, FBI Agent Testifies To Unspeakable Scam

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RWC News Dem Rep. Brown Stole Millions From Children, FBI Agent Testifies To Unspeakable Scam

It’s looking like former Rep. Corrine Brown is in very deep trouble.

Getting elected to the United States Congress is much less difficult than getting to the Senate for a host of reasons. And because congressional districts can be quite small with narrow and extreme political tastes, some real characters make it to D.C.

Former Democratic Representative Corrine Brown of Florida was one of the most eccentric member of Congress. She had a well-earned reputation for her bizarre appearance and behavior. But it’s looking like she may also be a serious financial criminal. It’s a story of “lying, cheating and stealing,” say prosecutors.

Last year Brown pleaded not guilty to 22 federal charges relating to a non-profit charity. Most of the charges have to do with the defunct One Door for Education, which was presented to the public as a charity helping poor children receive education. Prosecutors believe that Brown used One Door as her own personal bank account.

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On Wednesday FBI agent Vanessa Stelly testified that money intended for the children’s charity had gone into the shared bank account of Brown and her daughter Shantrel. A $3,000 donation to the charity was moved from the charity bank account to a joint account belong to mother and daughter.

The FBI agent explained that Brown was withdrawing money from One Door for Education’s account in Maryland and depositing that money in her own account at nearby Bank of America. Ronnie Simmons, Brown’s former chief of staff, would everyday withdraw the maximum allowed amount, $800, and then immediately take it to Brown’s bank.

Jurors saw images taken at an ATM of Simmons withdrawing money at a drive-through lane, followed by images of Simmons standing at the counter of Brown’s bank holding the cash.

RWC News Dem Rep. Brown Stole Millions From Children, FBI Agent Testifies To Unspeakable Scam  RWC News Dem Rep. Brown Stole Millions From Children, FBI Agent Testifies To Unspeakable Scam

The stolen money was flowing into an account shared by Corrine and her daughter Shantrel.

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Stelly also revealed information showing that the bank accounts had been accessed via ATM in Fort Lauderdale and Jacksonville on dates when only Brown, not Simmons, was in those cities. This proves that Brown was not simply ignorant of what her associates were doing with her cash.

Brown’s associate Ronnie Simmons and the president of One Door both admit to using charity money for personal uses.

Brown’s defense blames the unethical and illegal transactions on Simmons and other staff members. “There are two questions that will guide you throughout the trial: Who is Ronnie Simmons? And can you trust him?” said James Smith, Brown’s Attorney. “Sadly, there was one person who believed she could trust him and knew exactly who he was. She was wrong on both questions, and that’s the reason she sits here today being charged with these crimes.”

Brown’s attorney also brought up that Brown was the first African-American elected by her district since the Reconstruction period, and insisted that she always served her community well.

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Brown’s defense, that she is just a senile old woman who relied on Simmons like he was her son only to be betrayed by him, falls apart under the light of the testimony from FBI agent Stelly.

RWC News Dem Rep. Brown Stole Millions From Children, FBI Agent Testifies To Unspeakable Scam  RWC News Dem Rep. Brown Stole Millions From Children, FBI Agent Testifies To Unspeakable Scam  RWC News Dem Rep. Brown Stole Millions From Children, FBI Agent Testifies To Unspeakable Scam

Corrine Brown got used to that high lifestyle and couldn’t quit while she was ahead.

“When you dig further, you realize this is a way of life for her,” U.S. Attorney A. Tysen Duva argued. “…She simply spent more than she took in. She became accustomed to this money.”

The deposits into her account from fraudulent sources total a combined $141,000 from multiple sources, One Door for Education just being one of them. The deposits into Brown’s bank account began one year before even came into being.

“You wish {One Door for Education] was the end of the story; that was all that could be said. But sadly, it’s not. That’s far from it. There’s another side: corruption, greed and a significant entitlement attitude,” Duva said during his opening remarks.

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Duva told jurors Jacksonville’s Community Rehabilitation Center, a nonprofit run by Councilman Reginald Gaffney, paid money to to a company owned by another CRC official, Stanley Twiggs. The cash was then deposited into Brown’s account.

The federal prosecutor told the court that Brown became hooked on a luxurious lifestyle that was more than she could afford.

John Picerne, a Rhode Island real estate executive who contributed $10,000 to One Door, testified that he only made the donation to the scholarship fund because Brown personally recommended it to him as a worthy charity. One Door took in around $800,000 in donations, but almost none of that money went to help children, the intended beneficiaries of the money.

RWC News Dem Rep. Brown Stole Millions From Children, FBI Agent Testifies To Unspeakable Scam  RWC News Dem Rep. Brown Stole Millions From Children, FBI Agent Testifies To Unspeakable Scam  RWC News Dem Rep. Brown Stole Millions From Children, FBI Agent Testifies To Unspeakable Scam  RWC News Dem Rep. Brown Stole Millions From Children, FBI Agent Testifies To Unspeakable Scam

Corrine Brown’s history of corruption go back as far as 1998, when she was investigated for mishandling money received from preacher Henry Lyons.

If convicted of these very serious crimes, Brown would face 357 years in prison and a $4.8 million fine. The trial should last two weeks, and Brown will be taking the stand to to be questioned under oath.

Brown has a history of corruption predating this latest case. In 1998, the House Ethics Committee questioned Brown about $10,000 received from National Baptist Convention leader Henry Lyons. There was suspected improper use of the money.

Also in 1998, a complaint was brought against Brown alleging that her daughter had been given a luxury car by an agent of a Gambian millionaire in exchange for a favor. The Gambian millionaire had been imprisoned in Miami for attempting to bribe a U.S. customs officer. Brown worked to secure his deportation back to Gambia rather than continued incarceration.

As you reflect on this story, watch some videos of Corrine Brown, such as this one of her inability to follow up on a basic question, or this one of her babbling incoherently about the veterans, or this one of her cheering on her Florida “Gatas.”

Brown will be remembered not only for her ice-cold thieving from children and charitable donors, but for her zany antics as well. Hopefully the voters of America’s congressional districts can try harder in the future to find worthy representatives in the future.

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Emma Laftchu
I began reporting for RWC News on October 12th of 2016. Prior to that I was a reporter for WOKR Radio.

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