Supporters call Corrine Brown's prison sentence a 'sad day'

Brown was charged with 18 out of 22 felony counts in a federal fraud case.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla.  -- Former Congresswoman Corrine Brown has been a political powerhouse. Former President Bill Clinton once said "what Corrine wants Corrine gets." Even her campaign slogan said "Corrine Delivers."

In July 2016, Brown's 24-year reign in Congress began crumbling.

The Justice Department indicted her on corruption charges and tax evasion. It involved raising money for a unregistered charity One Door for Education, which prosecutors called her slush fund. She denied the charges to First Coast News in an earlier interview and maintained her innocence.

"I had nothing to do with anything pertaining to this charity," Brown said.

Her 2017 re-election effort also failed. A jury convicted her on 18 of the 22 charges in the fraud case.

Her supporters were with her to the end. City Councilman Reginald Brown, who isn't related to Brown, was in the courtroom during her sentence.

"I think she will be remembered for all the great things she has done and she should be remembered,"  Brown said.

Pastor Darrien Bolden watched Brown being sentenced to jail and called it heartbreaking.

"Considering all the work that she has done it is sad day, very sad day," Bolden said.
 
Even her loyal constituents were outraged. Terry Gilliam rebuked the judicial process.  

"My mom passed away in the nursing home in 2016 and she was crazy about Corrine... she knew how much Corrine had done for the black community," Gilliam said.

Brown vowed that her tombstone would not read 'convicted felon.'  Attorney James Smith said she will continue her fight to overturn her conviction.

"I respectfully disagree with the idea that a woman who is 71 should have to go to prison for a non-violent economic offense," Smith said.

Smith has to file a motion for bond while the former congresswoman appeals her case to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. 

The five-year prison sentence she now faces is below the minimum recommended guidelines. The court could have given her probation, but it appears that it is sending a message that public officials, who are convicted, will be held accountable. 

© 2017 WTLV-TV


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