U.S. District Judge Timothy Corrigan is known for being a reflective jurist. His 2016 essay for Duke University law school titled, “Who appointed me God?” demonstrated his ambivalence about issuing final sentences in criminal cases.
His comments at Monday’s sentencing in the Corrine Brown trial evoked a similar theme. “No matter how long we judges have done it, we can never forget what an awesome responsibility it is to decide whether and for how long to deprive someone of their liberty,” he told the court.
Corrigan went on to sentence the longtime Democratic Congresswoman to 5 years in prison, but not before explaining his reasoning in some detail.
Corrigan began by establishing the circumstances of the charges against Brown and her codefendants, former Chief of Staff Ronnie Simmons, and his former girlfriend Carla Wiley.
Calling it a “crime born of entitlement and greed,” Corrigan noted that Brown and Simmons “traded on her role in Congress to solicit contributions” from donors to a sham charity, which was effectively a slush fund for all three.
“The public had a right to expect that Ms. Brown as an elected member of Congress [and her codefendants] … would not abuse their positions of public trust and responsibility … and would not steal money donated for the benefit of children and spend it on themselves.”
Corrigan noted that Brown’s stalwart supporters – many of whom testified at sentencing, and hundreds of others who wrote letters – refuse to believe she did wrong.
“It is the Court’s responsibility to give voice to the jury's verdict."
Corrigan gave a nod to Brown’s long history of public service, and the good she has done for people in the community over the years. He also addressed the elephant in the room: Race
Americans is rooted in history. Unfortunately, some of
While Corrigan expressed sympathy to Brown and wished her and her family well, he pulled no punches. He called some comments Brown made in the public – including suggesting the FBI could have prevented the Pulse nightclub shooting had it not been focused on investigating her “reprehensible” and “beyond the pale.”
And he seemed especially galled by the flagrant nature of one particular offense. Citing the myriad fake charitable deductions she claimed on her annual tax returns, the judge observed that she even claimed to have donated to One Door for Education – the fake charity she was plundering.
“Brazen,” Corrigan noted, “barely describes it”
Brown was ordered to report to the Bureau of Prisons no sooner than Jan. 8, which means she will be able to spend the holidays at home. Her attorney, James Smith, told the judge he plans to file a motion for bond pending appeal. The judge set a deadline for that filing on next Monday, and a deadline for a response from prosecutors on Dec. 18.
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