• Tearful Corrine Brown asks court for mercy at sentencing hearing

    By: Action News Jax

    Updated:

    WATCH: Action News Jax will have a full update on the Corrine Brown hearing on CBS47 at 6 and FOX30 at 10.

    Corrine Brown: “I humbly ask for mercy and compassion”

    3 p.m.: Corrine Brown did not make a statement outside the courthouse. Her attorney briefly spoke and said again that he doesn't think Brown deserves a long prison sentence. 

    Corrine Brown addressed the judge during her sentence hearing Thursday.

    She apologized to the court, her family, friends and the community and asked for mercy and compassion.

    She said she “would have never put anyone intentionally in this situation,” and that the charges “run contrary to everything I am and everything I’ve ever done in my life.”

    “I wish I had been more diligent in overseeing my personal and professional life,” she told the judge. “Too many times I have trusted before verifying.”

    She went on to ask the judge to take into consideration all that she’s done in her life.

    Brown’s attorney James Smith argued that Brown did not commit perjury during testimony. He said just because the jury convicted her despite her testimony on the stand doesn’t mean she was lying.

    Smith posed two questions to the court: “What type of sentence does justice require in this case? How do you sentence someone who is a legend?”

    Smith said Brown is a legend because she has embodied the notion of being a public servant her whole life.

    Smith spoke about her life throughout the years as a black woman.

    “She’s reminded of the scars she’s gained in fighting for all of us," he said.

    Smith cited Brown’s age as a reason she shouldn’t be imprisoned for the 5-year sentence prosecutors have asked for at minimum. 

    2:45 p.m. The sentencing hearing is over. 

    An attorney for Corrine Brown was emotional while asking judge for leniency: "She truly is a legend," her counsel said. 

    The judge took a few minutes at the end of the hearing to tell each side that he'll do his best to determine a just sentence.

    “Judges are humans too, and all I can do is the best I can do, and I will do the best I can do,” he said. “Ironically when judges impose sentences, our job is not to be judgemental. Our job is to be an instrument of the law which reflects the societal norms and values that we all agree to.”

    He will announce sentences for Brown, Wiley and Simmons on Dec. 4. 

    2 p.m. Corrine Brown is speaking. @Jenna Bourne reports she was in tears by the second sentence. 

    Brown tells the judge: “I wish I had been more diligent in overseeing my personal and professional life. I ask that you take into consideration all that I’ve done in my life and I’ve come to ask for mercy and compassion. For far too many times, I have trusted without verifying." 

    12 p.m. -  The government made their case for significant prison time for former Rep. Corrine Brown Thursday, saying in addition to fraud, she disparaged the justice system before and after her conviction and lied on the witness stand for hours.

    Brown’s sentencing hearing began at 10 a.m. at the federal courthouse in Jacksonville with a large group of Brown’s supporters present.


    WATCH: Latest Corrine Brown case updates on CBS47 at 5 


    Judge Timothy Corrigan began the sentencing hearing by saying he received more than 100 letters in regards to Brown prior to the hearing.

    He said close to 99 percent of the letters were in favor of Brown, including letters from elected officials, prominent people in the community and citizens.

    Brown’s attorney James Smith is seeking probation for Brown. He said 15 people are at the hearing to attest to Brown’s character, and Congresswoman

    Prior to the character testimonies, Smith objected to the total loss amount attributed to Brown’s deception and fraud in connection with One Door for Education.


    CATCH UP:  Jury finds Brown guilty on 18 counts in federal fraud trial


    He argued donor money spent on events should not be included in to the total loss amount attributed to Brown because donors were told the money would be used for events, and it was.

    He said funds Carla Wiley stole – more than $182,000 – without Brown’s knowledge and money spent by Ronnie Simmons on “romancing” Wiley while they were dating should not be included in the total loss amount.

    The government argued that the lavish events Brown threw were not aimed at raising scholarship money, as suggested during fundraising.

    “There was absolutely no intention, ever, for these events to raise money for scholarships.”

    Brown: “I never, ever, knew the money was being taken from One Door.”

    The government argued Brown lied for hours while on the witness stand.

    Prosecutors said Brown refused to acknowledge that she knew Simmons was taking money from One Door for Education and blamed him for the whole scheme.

    They detailed money from donors deposited into her associate’s accounts then transferred to her account on several occasions.


    SKETCHES: Corrine Brown in court for sentencing hearing 


    The government cited more than $141,000 in unexplained funds deposited to her bank account that Brown couldn’t explain.

    Prosecutors also highlighted many comments by Brown before and after her conviction that disparaged the government and justice system, including a comment about FBI agents investigating her rather than the Pulse nightclub shooter.

    The government said imprisonment in this case “is unequivocally necessary. It has to be done.”

    They argued she is not too old for prison and that probation would be inappropriate in this case.

    Prosecutors: “The silent victims are the kids involved in One Door for Education who got nothing.”

    We’re expected to hear from a Congresswoman and character witnesses after a short recess at 11:30 a.m.

    11:27 a.m. - The judge stated during the morning session of the hearing that he read more than 100 letters submitted in the case and that a large majority of them were in support of Corrine Brown. 

    Brown's attorney said that 15 witnesses, down from 22, in support of the former congresswoman will speak during the hearing. 

    James Smith, Browns attorney said that he objects to "obstruction enhancements" to her sentence. 

    The prosecution said that "there was absolutely no intention, ever, for these events to raise money for scholarships."

    Brown repeatedly whispered to Smith and shook her head during the prosecutions argument. 

    Prosecution also said that Brown's age shouldn't be a factor in sentencing because she had she not been indicted, she would've run ro re-election. 

    10 a.m. - The sentencing hearing for Corrine Brown starts at 10 a.m. where her defense and the prosecution  will argue for what they believe would be an appropriate sentence. The Judge will not actually hand down the sentence Dec. 4.

    9:38 a.m. - Corrine Brown arrived at the courthouse for her sentencing hearing. 

    Supporters gathered around Brown and prayed with Bishop McKissick Sr. before entering the courthouse. 

    Brown's daughter Shantrel Brown is also in attendance during today's hearing.

     

    9:00 a.m. - Former Jacksonville mayor, Alvin Brown arrived at the Federal Courthouse saying he's there to support former congresswoman Corrine Brown.

    Original Story:

    Former congresswoman Corrine Brown will fight to avoid jail time during her sentencing hearing Thursday morning.

    Wednesday, sentencing hearings took place for Brown’s co-conspirators Carla Wiley and Ronnie Simmons.

    Both Simmons and Wiley apologized to the court in their hearings on Wednesday, and Simmons’ attorney placed the blame on Brown. 


    MORE: Simmons, Wiley express regret for actions in sentencing hearing | FULL RECAP: 'I'm sorry:' Co-defendants in former Rep. Corrine Brown fraud case plead to avoid prison | COURTROOM SKETCHES: Simmons, Wiley express regret before judge


    “Because it was run the way it was, there’s no one who says no to Corrine Brown,” said Simmon’s attorney Anthony Suarez.

    The prosecution believes Wiley should get the lightest sentence, followed by Simmons, and with the highest penalty for Brown.

    Prosecutors are supporting a request for reduced sentences for both Wiley and Simmons, but say probation is inappropriate for Brown and are pushing for a severe sentence for the former congresswoman.

    The prosecution also told the judge Wednesday that Brown lied on the witness stand.


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


    Brown’s attorney, James Smith says he’ll be fighting for probation inside that courtroom today. 

    “I always knew that the government was going to be asking for prison time,” said Smith.

    Action News Jax Law and Safety Expert Dale Carson believes all three will get at least some prison time.
     
     “They can’t very well give them a slap on the wrist and let them go home because that sends absolutely the wrong message it sends a message that the powerful get a different type of justice than the rest of us,” said Carson.
     
    During today’s hearing, Brown is expected to take the stand along with nearly two dozen others speaking on her behalf. 

    The sentences for Wiley, Simmons and Brown won’t be handed down until Dec. 4.

    More on the Corrine Brown case

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