Our team coverage continues on the case against former Congresswoman Corrine Brown. Steven Dial recaps the verdict and Julia Jenae gets community reaction
Former Congresswoman Corrine Brown was found guilty of 18 of 22 charges against her. A 12-member jury found her guilty of conspiring to commit mail and wire fraud, mail fraud, wire fraud, lying on financial disclosure forms, impeding IRS tax laws, and filing false tax returns.
She left the courthouse through the front doors and immediately came upon a media gauntlet. Several court security officers flanked her, her lawyer and her supporters as they fought through a myriad of questions to get to her car.
Brown kept uncharacteristically silent.
Her lawyer, James Smith, was able to pull a few journalists away by offering up a few words in lieu of a press conference. Once Brown was in her car and on her way, he read a statement from the former U.S. representative.
Brown said she respected the justice system and the jury, but intended to file motions to begin the appeal process. She maintains her innocence.
"She'll continue to fight," Smith told the assembled crowd. He added the congresswoman would be heading home and spend time with her family.
"Obviously it's been a very taxing time," he continued. "I know this seems like the end of the game, but it's only the first quarter... there's plenty of time left."
Brown's full statement after the verdict:
"While I respect the jury's decision, I disagree with it and I want to make it clear that I maintain my innocence. I did not commit these crimes and I intend to file a motion for a new trial. I will continue to stand on my record of decades of faithful service to this community and the nation. I have a long record of charitable service to the community and that will continue even during this process. I want to thank my family and friends for their prayers and support during this difficult time. I ask that you continue to pray for and support me. This fight is not over and as I'm sure you know I will continue to fight to clear my name and restore my reputation."
The immediate aftermath of the Corrine Brown case
Several supporters chose to speak to the media, including Denise Hunt who repeatedly told reporters she was saddened by the verdict.
"Corrine Brown built this city!" she shouted to anyone nearby.
Hunt went on to point out someone as respected as long as Brown has been should not have had to go through the front doors of the courthouse to face the onslaught of questions. She believes Brown should have been allowed to leave through a side door like some others are.
She wouldn't say if she thought Brown's treatment was a result of her race. "I don't know how to go on from here," she said. "I mean, it's just I don't know how a lot of people on the Northside recover from this because I'm overwhelmingly heartbroken I don't know just how else to say it.
Corrine Brown's representatives reacts to verdict
Brown will face sentencing no earlier than 90 days from now. The judge in her case, Judge Timothy Corrigan, told the court he'd check with both sets of lawyers closer to the sentencing date.
The FBI investigated the case against the former congresswoman in conjunction with the IRS. The investigative agency released a statement excoriating Brown after the verdict.
"Former Congresswoman Brown took an oath year after year to serve others, but instead she exploited the needs of children and deceived her constituents to advance her own personal and political agendas," the agency wrote in a statement.
READ a recap of the trial: Highlights from witness testimony
The Department of Justice, who prosecuted the case, said in a statement that Brown was a corrupt public official who undermined the integrity of government. "Former Congresswoman Brown chose greed and personal gain over the sacred trust given to her by the community.
The Duval County Democratic Party released a statement on Twitter standing with the former representative from Florida District 5.
"Congresswoman Corrine Brown's work for her district in the Legislature and in Congress will never be diminished by the outcome of this trial," it reads. "She has been a champion and worked tirelessly for many years." Brown lost her 2016 reelection bid to Al Lawson after serving 24 years in Congress.
US Department of Justice releases statement on Corrine Brown
As Brown was escorted from the courthouse, supporters shouted "We love you, Corrine!"
The guilty verdict caps nearly three weeks in court. The jury in the case watched eight days of testimony and heard from nearly 50 witnesses. They had to peruse thousands of documents to reach their verdict.
It took them a little over three days to reach their verdict. On Wednesday, Corrigan dismissed a juror and brought in an alternate. All were told to restart deliberations.
Brown was found guilty of using a bogus charity, One Door For Education, as a personal slush fund, enriching herself, her chief of staff, and the fund's president. The former congresswoman raised $833,000 for the charity from 2012 - 2015 and only gave $1,200 out in scholarships to students.
The prosecution showed an extensive paper trail detailing how Ronnie Simmons, her chief of staff, would regularly deposit $800 in her account at her direction, her said. He put tens of thousands of dollars into her account.
She also used $330,000 for various events, including receptions, an NFL sky box, Beyonce concert tickets, and a golf tournament. All events were supposed to be raising money for children or giving them scholarships, but none did.
The jury also found her guilty of lying on her tax forms, claiming sometimes $20,000 more in charitable givings than she ever received. She also failed to include all the money she received from One Door on her tax returns, sometimes hitting upwards of $30,000 more than the $170,000 she earned on average per tax year.
The 12-person jury handed down their verdict a little before 2 p.m. Brown may head to federal prison and face a significant fine.
Read the full verdict below submitted by the jury: