Corrine Brown to speak at sentencing hearing

By: Action News Jax

Updated:

LIST: Brown found guilty on 18 counts in federal fraud trial

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11:30 a.m. - Judge denies Carla Wiley's request for "minor role reduction". 

Judge accepted government’s “substantial assistance motions” for Wiley and Simmons, agreeing to reduce both their sentencing guidelines because of their assistance in conviction of Corrine Brown. 

For Carla Wiley, judge accepted prosecution’s recommendation of guideline range of 21 to 27 months in prison, which is a reduction from probation officer’s recommendation of 41-51 months.

The judge also accepted prosecution’s recommendation of guideline range of 33 to 41 months in prison for Ronnie Simmons, which is a reduction from probation officer’s recommendation of 57-71 months.

The judge clarified that his acceptance of  the reduced guideline ranges does not mean the sentences he hands down for Wiley and Simmons will actually fall within those ranges. It could be below or above range.

10 a.m. - Carla Wiley and Ronnie Simmons have arrived to federal court hearings. 

 

Carla Wiley and Ronnie Simmons arrive at Federal Court for sentencing hearings #CorrineBrown #Florida #Corrine

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Original Story:

Former Congresswoman Corrine Brown will speak at her sentencing hearing this week, her attorney James Smith told Action News Jax in an exclusive interview.

On Wednesday, Brown’s former chief of staff Ronnie Simmons and Carla Wiley, the president of the charity they’re all accused of stealing from, will appear in federal court for their sentencing hearings.

Brown’s sentencing hearing will be on Thursday, three months after she was convicted on 18 counts for stealing from a charity, filing false tax returns and more.

Smith said Brown will make a statement to the courtroom on Thursday, asking Judge Timothy Corrigan to take her decades of public service into account and thanking her supporters.

“The people who are labeled as victims, the donors, many of them still to this day love and support the congresswoman and really don’t believe the charges and can’t believe that she’s in this situation,” said Smith.

Smith revealed that some of those “victims” will be among as many as 22 people speaking in support of Brown on Thursday.

“I don’t want to give away too much, but I think you can expect that at least a couple of those people the government is going to try to list as victims will actually be speaking on behalf of Congresswoman Brown,” said Smith.

The judge won’t announce his decisions on Brown’s, Simmons’ or Wiley’s sentences until Dec. 4. 

Brown's former chief of staff testifies

Simmons is Brown's former chief of staff. He testified against her in her federal fraud trial saying she not only knew about stealing money from her “bogus charity,” she directed him to do it.

He told the jury he’s been handing Brown blank checks that he signed in someone else’s name since 1993.

He testified he “had no idea” his then-girlfriend Carla Wiley was also stealing from One Door to the tune of $140,000.

He pleaded guilty to counts 1 and 18, conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and theft of government funds.


RELATED: Breakdown of federal charges Brown faced


Simmons' probation officer recommended he receive 57 to 71 months of imprisonment. The U.S. Attorney’s Office recommended 33 to 41 months because of his cooperation.

President of 'bogus charity' testifies against Brown

Wiley served as president of Brown's so-called charity One Door for Education.

She was the first to plead guilty to federal charges back in March 2016. Brown and Simmons were indicted in July 2016.

Wiley testified against Brown in the federal fraud trial and pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud with a cooperation plea agreement.

She said she gave Simmons checks and the debit card for One Door, believing he would manage the funds correctly. She told the court Simmons would frequently forge her name on checks from One Door.

Her attorney Gray Thomas asked for no prison time. Her probation officer recommended she receive 41 to 51 months imprisonment.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office is recommending 21 to 27 months imprisonment because of her cooperation.

'Significant punishment' recommended for Brown

Brown's sentencing hearings begin at 10 a.m. Thursday.

Prosecutors are seeking significant punishment for Brown after she was convicted in May of 18 out of 22 counts in a federal fraud trial.

In addition to fraud counts connected to bogus charity One Door, Brown was also found guilty of lying on tax returns by inflating charitable contributions and under-reporting income and filing false financial disclosures required by public officials.


DOCUMENT: Prosecutors want 'significant punishment' for Brown, memorandum says 


The judge denied two requests to delay sentencing by her attorney James Smith.

Smith argued Brown needed more time because of medical issues and damage to her home from Hurricane Irma.

Smith claims the probation officer’s advisory guideline range for Brown is 87 to 108 months but he’s asking for probation because of her age and health problems.

He also argued her history of public service justifies a lenient sentence and that prison is not needed to protect the public because Brown is unlikely to re-offend.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office is recommending Brown pay restitution of $452,515.87.

The government filed documents that said Brown “chose to ridicule the American system of justice and rule of law both pre- and post-conviction.”

The same document said that Brown “stooped so low as to state that if the Jacksonville FBI had not spent resources investigating her fraudulent conduct, then the Pulse nightclub tragedy in Orlando on June 12, 2016 would not have occurred.” Read sentencing memorandum.

Prosecutors are expected to announce how much prison time they think Brown deserves at the sentencing hearing Nov. 15.


DOCUMENTS: Ronnie Simmons motion for downward departure | Carla Wiley motion for downward departure 


Jurors spent three weeks away from work as they listened to testimony and deliberated on the 22 counts Brown faced in the federal fraud trial.

One juror was dismissed during deliberations after he told his fellow jurors that the Holy Spirit told him that Brown was innocent, and the evidence he saw during trial confirmed that.

The judge dismissed him, swapped in an alternate juror, and the jury reached their verdicts the next day.

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