Published: Fri, May 19, 2017
USA | By Kelli Rowe

Ex-congresswoman found guilty on 18 charges

Ex-congresswoman found guilty on 18 charges

(Bob Self/The Florida Times-Union via AP).

Her defense argues she raised money for the charity while asking for other funds and did not know it was a fake charity.

A long-time Democrat Senator has been found guilty on 18 charges of taking money from a charity that was purported to be giving scholarships to poor students.

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After a almost 25-year career representing Florida in Congress, former U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown was found guilty on Thursday of taking money from a charity that was purported to be giving scholarships to poor students. Brown, who pleaded not guilty, has been convicted of five counts of mail fraud, seven counts of wire fraud, conspiracy, one count of scheming to hide material facts, one count of obstruction of IRS laws and three tax fraud charges, reports WJXT4. "It's about fraud and corruption of the member of the highest level of the American government".

Brown, who served in the lower chamber from January 1993 - Jan. 2017, said she had made some mistakes, but maintained it was not intentional. "Yes", Brown said, to cheers from her supporters.

Since her indictment last summer, she had been publicly defiant of the government's charges, saying she was among black elected officials who have been "persecuted".

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Brown's lawyers argued that her former chief of staff Elias "Ronnie" Simmons was the person responsible. Both pleaded guilty after their federal indictments for misusing the charity's funds and testified against Brown. "She shamefully deprived needy children of hundreds of thousands of dollars that could have helped with their education and improved their opportunities for advancement, and she lied to the IRS and the American public about secret cash deposits into her personal bank accounts". One Door was not a registered nonprofit and most of the money went to their own pockets or was spent on lavish events in Brown's honor, DOJ said.

As she left the courtroom after hearing the verdicts, Brown stoically appeared shocked. She didn't speak after the verdict was rendered, though her attorney James Smith told reporters, "I still have a lot of work to do on this case", referring to the sentencing phase of the trial that's still to come and the motion he plans to file for a new trial. Though Brown was upset and fought against the changes to her district, she ended up winning reelection during her next campaign anyway. "And she will continue to do that".

It is expected that the 70 year old, Brown is expected to be sentenced some time over the next four months on charges that can possibly each carry three years a piece.

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