Colin Dwyer, NPR, December 4, 2017
Former Rep. Corrine Brown has been sentenced to five years in prison for pocketing hundreds of thousands of dollars from donors who believed their money was going to charity. A federal judge on Monday sentenced the Florida Democrat, who was voted out of office last year, on 18 crimes ranging from conspiracy to fraud.
The prison sentence marks the coup de grâce for Brown’s political career, which at one time was lauded for its historic, trailblazing achievement. When she won election to the House in 1992, Brown became one of the first three African-American lawmakers from Florida to be elected to Congress since Reconstruction.
Yet during that long career Brown and her chief of staff, Elias “Ronnie” Simmons, had also been soliciting donations for One Door for Education — a group purportedly funding education for needy children, but really serving as a fig leaf for fraud. As member station WJCT reported, the two raised more than $800,00; just $1,200 actually went where they promised.
The court found that the rest was siphoned into lavish events, when it wasn’t going straight into the congresswoman’s bank account.