DAY 5: Ronnie Simmons' attorney tells client, ‘You're sacrificing yourself'
Former Congresswoman Corrine Brown sobbed uncontrollably on the witness stand on Friday.
The former congresswoman is accused of using “bogus charity” One Door for Education as a personal slush fund as well as falsifying her Congressional financial disclosures and tax returns.
Brown’s emotional outburst happened about an hour into cross-examination by U.S. Attorney’s Office prosecutor Tysen Duva.
Brown sobbed and pounded her fist on the witness stand as she told the jury about her former chief of staff Ronnie Simmons.
“Not one time did I think Ronnie was stealing any money. Not one! Do you think I would jeopardize my constituents?” said Brown.
'He's trying to destroy my life'
She asked the judge for a break.
As the jury filed out of the courtroom, Brown yelled, “He’s trying to destroy my life!”
It wasn’t clear if she was talking about Duva or Simmons.
Simmons testified on Wednesday that Brown instructed him to steal money from his girlfriend Carla Wiley’s foundation, One Door for Education, and deposit it into her account.
Duva said Simmons deposited thousands from One Door into Brown’s account before she went shopping in Beverly Hills, dropping $558 at a clothing store, $850 at a cosmetic dermatologist, and more.
When Duva pointed out that Brown’s bank statement shows she spent $7,000 more than her income that month, Brown responded, “Sir, I’m just like anybody else. I know how to rob Peter to pay Paul.”
'Sometimes, I have boyfriends'
Duva also questioned the former congresswoman about the $142,000 in cash deposits between 2009 and 2014 that the IRS testified was not declared as income on her taxes.
“I had birthdays, I had Christmas, you know, and sometimes I have boyfriends,” replied Brown.
Brown also told the jury that one of the government’s key witnesses, Von Alexander, was told how to testify.
Alexander was a congressional staffer for Brown.
Brown referred to Alexander as “a parrot.”
‘Say yes or no, or you’ll be indicted’
On Monday, Alexander testified that Brown repeatedly instructed her to fill out blank checks from One Door for Education, deposit them into the account of her business, The Alexander Agency, then deposit the money in Brown’s personal account.
Brown testified the deposits from Alexander were repayments on loans the former congresswoman made to her staffer.
On Friday, Brown told the jury, “Von Alexander came to me and said when she tried to explain to whoever… she was told, ‘Don’t explain anything to me.’ She was told, ‘Say yes or no, or you’ll be indicted.’”
Brown would not elaborate on who she believes said that to Alexander.
After listening through eight days of complicated, contradicting and emotional testimony, the jury will return to the courthouse on Monday morning for closing arguments.
Then deliberations on Brown’s 22 charges will begin.
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