JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — On Wednesday afternoon in federal court, Ronnie Simmons, longtime friend and chief of staff for former U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown, pleaded guilty to two federal charges.
Simmons dodged our crew outside after court finished. However, his attorney Anthony Suarez answered our questions after handing out a formal statement.
"This is a long, as indicated in the statement, a gut-wrenching decision. He knows Corrine Brown and all of their common friends. He basically, at this point, has to have new friends and has to have a new life," said Suarez.
Prosecutors say Simmons and Brown used a charity called One Door Education to solicit thousands of dollars in donations.
They say Brown's political connections raised more than $800,000, but Simmons admitted Wednesday that they only handed out 2 scholarships that totaled $1,200.
Simmons also admitted to misusing his position to pay a close family member more than $700,000 in taxpayer dollars over 15 years for doing no work for the U.S. House of Representatives.
Simmons's attorney said his client will testify against Brown if he has to, but Action News Jax law and safety expert Dale Carson doesn't believe it will get to that point.
He said it will be more likely that Brown will also enter a plea.
When we reached out to Brown for comment, our calls were not returned.
She's expected to be back in federal court Thursday. You can expect Action News Jax to be there.
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