JACKSONVILLE, Fla.— Fifth District Congresswoman Corrine Brown (D-Fla.) has arrived at the Jacksonville Federal Courthouse ahead of a first appearance.
The congresswoman was indicted Wednesday and the case details are just coming out. A federal case has also been filed against her chief of staff, Elias Simmons.
Out of a 24 count indictment, Brown is facing 22 counts ranging fraud, conspiracy to commit mail fraud, making false statements, wire fraud, and more. Simmons is facing 19 counts.
"Congresswoman Brown and her chief of staff are alleged to have used the Congresswoman's official position to solicit over $800,000 in donations to a supposed charitable organization, only to use that organization as a personal slush fund," said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell.
"The defendants are alleged to have committed a multitude of criminal violations, including fraudulently receiving and using hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions meant for a nonprofit organization for their own personal and professional benefit,” said Richard Weber, Chief, IRS Criminal Investigation.
“The American public expects and deserves equitable enforcement of our tax laws.”
Brown is also charged with engaging in tax obstruction between 2008 and 2014.
Simmons is also charged with theft of government property. The FBI says a relative of Simmons allegedly received $735,000 in government salary despite "performing no known work" and that Simmons diverted over $80,000 of that salary for his personal benefit.
Brown will appear before a federal magistrate judge at 1 p.m. Friday. She returned to Jacksonville Thursday evening from Washington, D.C.
Three federal judges, Monte C. Richardson, Joel B. Toomey, and Brian J. Davis, have all recused themselves from being involved in the case. We are trying to clarify why the three requested to be recused from the case.
The indictments stem from Brown's involvement in a group called "One Door for Education," which advertised itself as a charity, but was never a registered nonprofit. One Door's president Carla Wiley entered a guilty plea of Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud charges in early March.
The FBI says despite raising over $800,000 in donations, the indictment alleges that One Door was associated with only two scholarships totaling $1,200 that were awarded to students to cover
Wiley has promised cooperation with federal authorities as part of the plea deal. Brown has remained tight-lipped about her role in the investigation and has not responded to our calls about the indictment.
Brown was first elected to Congress in 1992. Her current Fifth District stretches from Jacksonville to near Orlando. However, major changes to district lines mean she has declared that she will run for re-election in a district that stretches from Jacksonville westward to Tallahassee.