JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Federal prosecutors have filed a motion opposing former congresswoman Corrine Brown's request to remain out on bond while her appeals are decided.
Brown, 71, was sentenced earlier this month to five years in prison after a jury convicted her of 18 federal fraud and tax-related charges for her role in a scheme that put money raised for a bogus children's education charity into the pockets of Brown and her cohorts.
Brown's attorney, James Smith, filed a motion last week for Brown to remain out on bond pending her appeal of the conviction and sentence. He focused the motion on Judge Timothy Corrigan's decision to remove a juror during deliberations.
That juror admitted to Corrigan that he thought Brown was innocent because a higher power told him so, but said when questionedthat he thought he could follow the law and the jury instructions on his own. Corrigan decided to dismiss the juror and replace him with an alternate.
Smith argued that the issue of the juror's removal needs to be considered by the Court of Appeals, and that it's enough of a "significant question" that Brown should remain free on bond while the appeals process takes place.
"We believe that our motion meets the burden required by the relevant statute and case law and we hope that the court will grant the relief we requested," Smith said.
But prosecutors argue that it's not a close decision for the court of appeals, and that the judge's initial decision was correct, so Brown should begin to serve her prison time as she appeals her conviction.
It's now up to Corrigan to rule on the motion for bond.
Attorney Rhonda Peoples-Waters, who is not connected with the case, said Corrigan will consider several things as he makes his decision.
“What Judge Corrigan has to decide is whether or not Corrine Brown is a flight risk, whether or not she poses a danger to the community and one of the biggest issues is whether or not this is a purposeful delay,” Peoples-Waters said.
If Corrigan denies Brown's motion, she will have to report to a federal prison facility at some point on or after Jan. 8. Brown will receive a letter from the Bureau of Prisons telling her when and where to report.
Brown's cohorts, former chief of staff Ronnie Simmons and his ex-girlfriend Carla Wiley, who founded the bogus One Door for Education charity, will also receive letters and must report to prison on or after Jan. 8.
Simmons and Wiley pleaded guilty in the case and testified against Brown. Simmons was sentenced to 48 months and Wiley received 21 months for their roles in the scam.
All three must also serve three years of supervised release and pay $250 a month in restitution until they have paid back the money they stole from One Door.
The charity was founded as a way to help needy children get scholarships and computers, but despite raising $833,000 in a four-year span, only $1,200 in scholarships was given out.
The rest paid for things such as events and travel for Brown and those in her orbit, as well as dozens of cash deposits to her personal bank account and a range of frivolous expenses, including nearly $14,000 for Beyonce tickets and $15,000 for a suite at a Jaguars-Redskins game.
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