Disgraced Florida Democratic Rep. Corrine Brown, a super delegate for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election, his heading to prison.
Brown was sentenced to five years in prison Monday for mail, wire and tax fraud related to her sham charity, One Door For Education, Fox News reports.
Her attorney argued she deserved probation, but U.S. District Judge Timothy Corrigan opted for hard time instead.
“This is a sad day for everyone,” Corrigan said at Brown’s sentencing hearing, according to The Florida Times Union. “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 out of entitlement and greed committed to ensure a lifestyle that was beyond their means,” the judge said of Brown and her co-conspirators. “Just think of the good that could have been done with that money if it would have been used for its intended purpose.”
Brown was convicted in May on 18 of 22 charges against her, with the bulk related to One Door For Education, an organization allegedly established to fund scholarships for poor kids. With Brown’s help, One Door took in about $800,000 in donations over four years, but only paid out a single scholarship for $1,000.
Much of the rest of the money was spent on lavish fundraising events and deposited into Brown’s personal accounts, as well as the personal accounts of One Door President Carla Wiley and Brown’s former chief of staff, Elias Simmons, the charity’s president.
Wiley pleaded guilty to a single count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud earlier this year and cooperated with prosecutors. Simmons was indicted with Brown, but also took a plea deal to testify against his former boss of 25 years, the Times Union reports.
Brown denied any wrongdoing and alleged she was totally unaware of how her co-conspirators were running the sham charity, which was never recognized by the IRS as a nonprofit. Some of the charges against Brown stemmed from her failure to report income from the charity and other sources to the IRS.
“In addition to saying Brown pocketed One Door money without paying taxes, prosecutors have claimed she lowered her tax bill by making up donations to nonprofits that included Edward Waters College, the Community Rehabilitation Center and Bethel Baptist Institutional Church,” the Times Union reports.
Throughout her 12 terms in Congress Brown promoted herself as a champion for the poor and disadvantaged. The One Door case reveals she stole money from constituents with the promise to give it to poor students, then spent it on Beyonce concert tickets, Redskins football games, lavish parties and other personal expenses.
Brown, a Hillary Clinton superdelegate and member of her “Florida Leadership Council,” lost her re-election bid during last year’s primary to former state legislator Al Lawson, who went on to win the general election.
Corrigan allowed Brown to remain free until Jan. 8, when she will be required to report to a yet-to-be-determined prison. James Smith, Brown’s attorney, vowed to appeal the sentence.
Regardless, “federal rules say Brown should begin serving her time while the appeal is pending unless the judge finds the defense is raising substantial issues that are likely to result in a new trial or a sentence shorter than the time he’ll need to decide the appeal,” the Times Union reports.