Judge denies Corrine Brown's motions for acquittal or new trial
Ex-congresswoman to be sentenced in November on 18 charges
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Former U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown will not have her convictions thrown out or be granted a new trial, a federal judge decided Wednesday.
Brown is set to be sentenced Nov. 16 on 18 federal mail, wire and tax fraud charges.
Brown's attorney, James Smith, told WJXT-TV that she was distraught by the judge's decision.
Brown's co-conspirator, her former chief of staff, Ronnie Simmons, will be sentenced for his role in the scheme on Nov. 15.
The 12-term congresswoman from Jacksonville was convicted in May of taking money raised for the One Door for Education Foundation and lying on her taxes and congressional financial disclosure forms. Prosecutors convinced a jury that Brown used the unregistered charity as a personal slush fund.
Smith said in a motion for acquittal that the government never proved that she was a liar and a thief.
One of Smith's key arguments was that the judge erred by removing a juror who said he received guidance about Brown’s innocence from what he described as “the holy spirit.” Prosecutors said the judge had no legal choice but to remove the juror. They suggested that if if the situation was reversed -- a juror had said the Holy Spirit told them Brown was guilty -- that person would also have been removed.
Judge Timothy Corrigan said in his order to deny the defense's motion that he had proper cause to dismiss the man because "his religious beliefs compelled him to disregard those (jury) instructions and instead follow direction from the 'Holy Spirit' to find the defendant not guilty on all charges."
Corrigan said he doesn't think the juror was willfully disobeying the court's instructions but that he believed he had received instructions from an outside source and didn't understand how that conflicted with the court's instructions.
In denying the motion for a new trial, Corrigan said Brown got a fair trial with an impartial jury that reached a verdict in accordance with the law.
Brown continues to maintain her innocence.
Experts said Brown faces five to seven years in federal prison, and that not taking responsibility for her crimes could equal more prison time.
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