U.S. Rep Corrine Brown, a Hillary Clinton superdelegate, stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from donors to a charity she allegedly set up to offer scholarships to poor students.
A Jacksonville jury found the 70-year-old career politician guilty of using her position in Congress to raise $800,000 for a scam charity called One Door for Education Foundation, the vast majority of which was spent on parties, lavish trips, shopping, and other personal expenses.
Jurors found Brown guilty on 18 of 22 counts against her, including charges of falsifying her taxes and congressional financial disclosure forms, the Orlando Sentinel reports.
The guilty verdicts follow the conviction of Brown’s former chief of staff, Elias Simmons, who served as the charity’s president and pleaded guilty to misusing One Door funds. Simmons testified against Brown in the case, stating the former congresswoman instructed him to withdrawal the maximum of $800 from ATMs on dozens of occasions and deposit the money into Brown’s personal account.
Court records show One Door took in more than $800,000 between 2012 and 2016, but paid out only one scholarship for $1,200 to an unnamed student in Florida.
Brown had adamantly denied any wrongdoing, alleged she was unaware of the scam and blamed the theft on Simmons, according to the Miami Herald.
The Sentinel reports:
Brown was one of the first three African Americans elected to Congress from Florida since Reconstruction after she was elected in 1992.
Her district, designed to increase African American representation in Congress, stretched from her hometown of Jacksonville to areas of western Orlando and Orange County, including Eatonville and the Pine Hills neighborhood.
She is also a big Hillary Clinton supporter, serving as a superdelegate for the failed presidential candidate during the 2016 election.
“She partied with Nancy Pelosi, traveled on Air Force one next to President Obama, and cast her superdelegate vote for Hillary Clinton,” The Washington Times reports.
Brown is known in her former district for steering millions of dollars in federal funds to pet projects, earmarking an astounding $377 million in 2010.
After 25 years in Congress, Brown lost re-election last year to state Sen. Al Lawson during the primary, as she faced an indictment on the corruption charges following a House ethics investigation.
But the most recent scandal certainly isn’t Brown’s first.
Brown took heat in 1998 when she accepted a $10,000 check from disgraced National Baptist Convention president Henry Lyons, money she said she used to bus supporters to an event. Two years later, she was the subject of a House ethics investigation after she received a brand new Lexus worth $50,000 for attempting to free West African millionaire Foutanga Dit Babani Sikkoso from federal prison, according to the Times.
Brown approached Attorney General Janet Reno for help, but was shot down.
In 2008, she was again in the spotlight when the mayor of Jacksonville called her out for having the city deliver sandbags to her house to protect it from Tropical Storm Fay, though she later pledged to repay the city $886 for the special services, the Times reports.
Brown was facing a potential 357 years in prison and $4.8 million in fines for the One Door fraud if convicted of all 24 counts against her. Her potential punishment for the 18 convictions handed down Thursday is unclear.
Those convictions included several counts of mail and wire fraud, scheme to conceal material facts, corrupt endeavor to obstruct and impede the due administration of the Internal Revenue Service, and three counts of filing a false tax return, the Florida Times-Union reports.