• Corrine Brown Trial: Staffer says she funneled charity money to Brown's bank account

    By: Jenna Bourne, Action News Jax


    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'

    During Day 4 of witness testimony in former Congresswoman Corrine Brown’s federal fraud trial, the president of so-called “bogus charity” One Door for Education testified that she lied to the FBI last year.

    “The main reason was fear,” said Carla Wiley.

    Wiley told the jury she stole $140,000 from the charity she founded in honor of her mother.

    Wiley said the original intent of One Door for Education was to provide scholarships for needy students.

    Wiley pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud last year.

    Testifying in Brown’s trial was a condition of her plea agreement.

    Wiley testified she got a conference call from Corrine Brown, Brown’s chief of staff Ronnie Simmons, and the former Congresswoman’s daughter Shantrel Brown the night before the FBI showed up at her office in January 2016.

    Wiley said Simmons and Shantrel Brown told her the FBI had already questioned them.

    “How much confusion did the congresswoman express about why the FBI wanted to talk to people about One Door for Education?” U.S. Attorney’s Office prosecutor Eric Olshan asked Wiley.

    “None,” replied Wiley.

    Brown’s defense attorney James Smith implied to the jury that Wiley lies when she’s afraid, and she’s afraid now of going to jail.

    The prosecution pointed out that Wiley could be charged with perjury if she lied on the stand.

    Later on Monday, Corrine Brown’s former congressional staffer of 15 years Von Alexander took the stand.

    Alexander testified she became the middle man for funneling money from One Door into Brown’s personal bank account.

    Alexander was the first person to testify that Corrine Brown was directing how some of One Door’s money should be spent.

    Alexander testified that Corrine Brown would hand her blank One Door for Education checks.

    Alexander said Corrine Brown’s chief of staff Ronnie Simmons always forged his girlfriend and One Door president Carla Wiley’s signature on those checks.

    Alexander told the jury that Corrine Brown would direct her to make the checks out to her consulting company, The Alexander Agency.

    She said Corrine Brown would tell her to cash those checks and then deposit the cash directly into the former congresswoman’s personal bank account.

    Alexander testified she thought the tens of thousands in transactions were “reimbursements.”

    “I was not in a position to tell her no,” said Alexander.

    The jury also heard from Corrine Brown’s tax preparer, Dawn Wright, on Monday.

    Wright testified that Corrine Brown never reported any income from One Door for Education.

    Wright’s testimony will continue into Tuesday morning.

    Simmons is expected to take the stand on Tuesday afternoon.

    Prosecution told the judge on Monday it believes it will finish presenting its case on Wednesday.

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