Former U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown could spend the rest of her life in prison after being found guilty of taking money from a charity that was purported to be giving scholarships to poor students.
The Thursday verdict came after prosecutors outlined a pattern of fraud by Brown, 70, and her top aide that included using hundreds of thousands of dollars from the One Door for Education Foundation for lavish parties, trips and shopping excursions. She was convicted of 18 of the 22 charges against her, including lying on her taxes and on her congressional financial disclosure forms.
“Corrupt public officials undermine the integrity of our government and violate the public’s trust, and that is why investigating public corruption remains the FBI’s top criminal priority,” FBI Jacksonville Division Special Agent in Charge Charles Spencer said in a statement.
It was the final act in the downfall of Brown, who had represented the Florida district that included Jacksonville since 1993. Brown, a Democrat, was one of the first three African Americans to be elected to Congress from Florida since Reconstruction.
She watched the judge read each verdict in a silent courtroom with no visible reaction. She later left the courthouse holding onto the arm of a companion, surrounded by dozens of reporters. A few supporters shouted “We love you Corrine!” and “Keep the Faith!” as she silently made her way to a waiting car.