The former ranking member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee was sentenced to five years in federal prison on Monday for using money from an education charity for personal gain.
Corrine Brown, who lost her Florida congressional seat in August 2016 amid charges of fraud, was convicted earlier this year of using the charity One Door for Education Foundation Inc. as a personal slush fund for herself and friends instead of providing scholarships to low-income students.
Prosecutors charged that she and her chief of staff, Elias “Ronnie” Simmons, raised more than $800,000 for the charity but kept nearly all of the money for themselves, using it for shopping sprees and entertainment events.
Simmons was sentenced to four years in prison for his involvement. The charity’s president, Carla Wiley, received a 21-month sentence for her role.
The 71-year-old Brown was a Democratic member of Congress for 24 years and served on the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee for her entire time in office. Brown was ranking member for her last 18 months before she was forced from the role because of her indictment.
Even before the criminal charges, her prospects of remaining in Congress were dim. Redistricting of Florida’s congressional seats in 2016 moved her voting base to different areas in the north of the state.
She had maintained her innocence through the trial.
The Florida Times-Union reported that at sentencing on Monday, U.S. District Judge Timothy Corrigan criticized Brown for “a crime born out of entitlement and greed,” adding, “Just think of the good that could have been done with that money if it would have been used for its intended purpose.”
Brown is scheduled to report to federal prison in January.