JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Former Congresswoman Corrine Brown hosted a benefit concert Sunday night to help pay off her legal fees.
Brown postponed the concert last month, believing inclement weather would cause problems and saying she “needed more time.”
She spoke with First Coast News for the first time since Judge Corrigan denied her motion for acquittal and a new trial after she was convicted on 18 of 22 counts for her role in a fake scholarship charity.
In May, Corrigan ruled that the outcome of her case and God couldn’t mix when he dismissed a juror who told fellow jurors "the holy spirit" told him Brown was not guilty. In contrast, Sunday, the former congresswoman had it her way and brought God into the mix, for a small price.
Tickets ranged from $25 to $40 for her “Praise with a Purpose” concert featuring Shirley Caesar at Abyssinia Baptist Church. The money is going toward her legal fees. Hundreds answered the invitation, packing the parking lot and church.
“The people who are coming here are coming because they trust me, they are praying for me,” Brown said. “I’m glad they know it and I need help when you are going up against the criminal justice system it is very expensive.”
She wouldn’t estimate how much they hoped to fundraise by the end of the night but through the Corrine Brown Legal Trust she’s trying to raise $1 million.
She insisted money wasn’t the focus Sunday.
“It’s more than that," she said. "People everywhere I go say they are praying for me, but I say I want you to come and pray with me.”
Brown’s attorney James Smith echoed her sentiments.
“It’s really not just about her legal case per se, it’s about giving her supporters an opportunity to come and interact with one of the most famous gospel singers,” Smith said.
Supporters, like Duval County School District board chairman Paula Wright, were not interested in discussing Brown’s case.
“I have no thought about those charges, I’m here because I know, based upon my experience with her, I’m here to say I support you, encourage you and wish you the best,” Wright said.
A guilty conviction on 18 counts of fraud and corruption proved to be unconvincing for most, if not all, who attended the concert, some insisting the guilty charges are unfair or even a possible side effect of racism.
“I don’t think they are always fair here in Jacksonville the way they treat people, especially blacks,” said Brown supporter Dale Tunsill.
When asked about the case Brown was pulled away by her supporters to go inside.
Her attorney says they are disappointed the judge denied the request for an acquittal and new trial, but they plan to appeal after she’s sentenced in November.