• Corrine Brown Trial: Ronnie Simmons' attorney tells client, ‘You're sacrificing yourself'

    By: Jenna Bourne, Action News Jax

    Updated:

    DAY 1: ‘Lying, cheating and stealing': Corrine Brown's trial begins
    DAY 2: Who was holding the purse strings?
    DAY 3: Florida party chair calls trial 'disappointing circumstance'
    DAY 4: Staffer says she funneled charity money to Brown's bank account

    Ronnie Simmons is expected to testify against his boss, former Rep. Corrine Brown, on Wednesday morning.

    Originally, Simmons was on deck to take the stand Tuesday, but testimony from FBI forensic accountant Kimberly Henderson ran longer than expected.

    Henderson showed the jury a deep dive into Brown’s finances.

    Henderson testified that her team found a pattern of Jacksonville City Councilman Reggie Gaffney and his business partner Stanley Twiggs withdrawing money from both their non-profit and business accounts.

    Then, a cash deposit would appear in Corrine Brown’s account the same day.

    Sometimes as little as one minute passed between Gaffney withdrawing money and cash getting deposited in Brown’s personal account.

    Gaffney and Twiggs have not been charged.


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    Henderson testified that Corrine Brown and her daughter Shantrel Brown made about $75,000 from what the agency believes were suspicious deposits.

    That’s on top of the $330,000 that FBI Special Agent Vanessa Stelly testified last week a so-called “bogus charity,” One Door for Education, funneled into lavish events for the former congresswoman.

    The jury saw more than two dozen surveillance images on Tuesday that Henderson said show Brown making what the agency considers suspicious deposits into her personal bank accounts.

    The surveillance images were meant to blow up the defense’s argument that Brown didn’t know about all the extra money going into her account.

    Henderson testified that Brown needed the extra money because she was spending an average of $1,400 a month more than she was making from her congressional salary and pension.

    Brown’s defense attorney James Smith has argued that Brown didn’t know about the money because her chief of staff and defense boogeyman Ronnie Simmons was handling her personal finances.

    Simmons has already pleaded guilty to two federal charges and is scheduled to take the stand on Wednesday.

    “I said, ‘Ronnie, there’s no way she’s not going to blame you. This is obviously where the defense is going to be. You have to see this. You’re sacrificing yourself. The evidence is overwhelming, in my opinion,’” said Anthony Suarez.


    Corrine Brown Trial: Rep. Brown tried to claim $10,000 tax deduction for donation of 'her time'


    Suarez said Simmons will stick to the facts on the stand.

    “Let’s see how it goes. It’s contentious. It’ll be difficult. A 30-year relationship. Not easy. But he’s got to tell the truth,” said Suarez.

    The jury also heard on Tuesday from congressional staffer Carolyn Chatman, who was in charge of putting together documents for Corrine Brown’s tax returns for years.

    Prosecutors accuse Brown of lying on her tax returns about how much she donated to charity.

    Chatman told the jury that when Brown did not provide her with a donation receipt, she would pass along to the tax preparers whatever amount Brown would tell her.

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