ON AIR NOW

LISTEN NOW

Weather

clear-night
40°
Mostly Sunny
H 59° L 38°
  • clear-night
    40°
    Current Conditions
    Mostly Sunny. H 59° L 38°
  • clear-day
    60°
    Afternoon
    Mostly Sunny. H 59° L 38°
  • cloudy-day
    55°
    Evening
    Partly Cloudy. H 66° L 46°
LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest top stories

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest traffic report

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest forecast

00:00 | 00:00

Local
Former Rep. Brown, One Door accounts struggled in between deposits
Close

Former Rep. Brown, One Door accounts struggled in between deposits

Former Rep. Brown, One Door accounts struggled in between deposits
Photo Credit: News | WFTV

Former Rep. Brown, One Door accounts struggled in between deposits

If not for cash transfers- which in part included money from an alleged “sham” charity- now-former Congresswoman Corrine Brown would have been financially in the red.

And the account of the “charity” she’s accused of taking money from was not on solid footing either.

FBI Forensic Accountant Kimberly Henderson walked month-by-month through Brown’s income and expenditures, in testimony during Brown’s federal fraud trial. She considered Brown’s salary from the House of Representatives, her pension from the State of Florida, and any other non-cash deposits across Brown’s accounts, and compared that to the amount of money that was going out, dating back to 2009. Many of the months showed Brown’s spending outpaced her income- often by thousands of dollars, and on one occasion as much as around $9700.

FULL COVERAGE: Federal fraud trial of now-former Congresswoman Corrine Brown

Not all of the months that were studied correspond to a time when Brown is believed to have been getting money from One Door For Education, but prosecutors are working to continually boost their take on a long-term motive- which is that Brown was living outside of her means, and needed to supplement her income to cover that.

Brown and two others are accused of soliciting more than $800,000 in donations to One Door, and using the money for their personal expenses instead. Cash deposits to Brown stopped in January 2016, which is when Henderson says the FBI went “public” with the case, meaning they started interviewing people- including Carla Wiley and Ronnie Simmons.

Henderson says they tried to screen out cash deposits that were considered “normal”- for example, Brown’s brother would occasionally pay her back for a mortgage they were splitting that was drawing off Brown’s account. Henderson also looked for any cash deposits that were in close proximity and amount to cash withdraws, which could potentially show Brown had taken money from an ATM and was putting back the balance she didn’t use.

The intent was to leave the cash to reflect money that was ultimately funneled from One Door For Education, donors to the group, or other organizations that made checks to cash, and then allegedly gave the money to Brown, as Brown continued to live outside of her means. Some of the organizations that were studied include her campaign account, her legal fund, and an affiliated PAC.

A few of the transactions which prosecutors haven’t focused on until now include a Jacksonville non-profit, the Community Rehabilitation Center. Now-Jacksonville City Councilman Reggie Gaffney is the Executive Director of the CRC, and Stanley Twiggs was at one point a senior official as well. Brown’s tax returns show claims of frequent donations of money and goods to the CRC, but a file found with one of Brown’s staffers also shows that she was in possession of multiple versions of a donor letter from the organization, including one that was unsigned, and one that didn’t have an amount filled in. Henderson says she found no record in Brown’s accounts of any donation to the CRC.

Henderson says, in 2011, Twiggs formed a for-profit corporation called Community Rehabilitation Center Transportation Inc.. Later on, Twiggs filed articles of incorporation for LaPool Training & Education LLC. In 2010, Gaffney also formed the for-profit company Northwest Services Inc.

In July 2010, bank records show LaPool got $6,000 from the CRC. Henderson says Twiggs then withdrew $5,100 cash, and the same day as that withdrawal, $4,900 was deposited in to the bank account of Brown. The next month, Lapool got $3,000 from Northwest Support Services. Henderson says a countercheck was written for the same amount the next day, and then $1,700 in cash was deposited in to Brown’s account. Another instance in October 2011 shows CRC Transportation making a $4,000 check to “cash”- with Gaffney’s signature- and then $4,000 in cash being deposited in to Brown’s account about 20 minutes later. Henderson says there are even more examples that show a similar pattern. This all pre-dated One Door’s existence relating to this case.

Specifically with these transactions, Henderson says she found no evidence that Simmons was involved. Simmons is the man Brown’s defense is putting the blame on- saying he took advantage of Brown as she became more reliant on him.

For some of the expenses, Henderson also had surveillance showing Brown was hands on with cash deposits. There were also deposit slips that were reportedly signed by Brown. Brown’s attorney, James Smith III, asked Henderson how she knew that it was Brown’s signature. Henderson said she went by what the records were showing, but confirmed she is not a handwriting expert.

When Smith further pressed what information Henderson had when putting together the charts and examples, she said she was records driven. She looked at the financial and bank records for a range of people and organizations, but confirmed she did not do any of the interviews with the parties involved, saying instead that was up to the agents and investigators. Because of that, she had no knowledge of whether Simmons had a card for Brown’s account or whether he potentially admitted to taking money from Brown, all in connection to some of the ATM withdrawals off Brown’s account.

When it comes to One Door’s account specifically, Henderson says she noticed some definite patterns.

A chart she assembled reflects the balance on the One Door account at the end of every day. Each year, there would be a big uptick in September- which corresponds to when Brown would host a reception at the Congressional Black Caucus’ Annual Legislative Conference. Prosecutors say money that was donated to One Door was used to put on these events. As an example, in early September 2013, the balance on the One Door account was just over $7,000. That peaked around $35,000, before dropping back down below $4,000 at the end of the month. For the rest of that year, the account was under $10,000- sometimes only a few hundred dollars, and sometimes negative.

At no point did Henderson find any record of Brown directly contributing to One Door. She also says there was no record of One Door spending on computers for children, despite apparently having solicited donors for a computer drive.

One Door donors unwittingly supplementing these events, freeing up money to go to Brown, though, according to Henderson’s analysis. In addition to some of the transactions previously vetted in testimony about checks being funneled through the business of a Brown staffer and ultimately deposited with Brown or her daughter, Henderson showed a few other transactions that came at times when the accounts of One Door and Brown were either low, or negative.

One such transaction was January 2014, when John Picerne wrote a $10,000 check to One Door- which was a couple of hundred dollars in the red. The check was deposited within a few days, and a few days after that, there was an $800 ATM withdrawal from the account and $800 deposit in to Brown’s account- which was under $1000. Wiley then also spent the next few days transferring or withdrawing thousands of dollars to cover her own expenses.

There were two examples where Henderson says she found essentially a double-draw for an event. One instance connected to a Beyonce concert in July 2013. The catering estimate for that event was $3,055.16, but a receipt for the event showed the actual total came out to $3,582.62. The One Door debit card was used to cover the actual bill, but Henderson also traced a One Door check for the initial estimated amount- which had been written with no date or “pay to” initially- through various steps and ultimately cashed in to Brown’s account.

Another $4900 bill for the entertainment for a reception hosted by Brown was covered by Picerne Development directly, although Henderson says she also found a One Door check to Simmons for the same amount, which was then shuffled between Simmons and Brown.

WOKV is inside of the federal courthouse as testimony continues. Follow our reporter Stephanie Brown on Twitter for developing information.

Read More
VIEW COMMENTS

There are no comments yet. Be the first to post your thoughts. or Register.

The Latest News Headlines

  • President Donald Trump will not make a planned trip to Mar-a-Lago today because of a looming federal government shutdown, a White House official told The Palm Beach Post on Friday morning. >> Read more trending news Trump was scheduled to arrive at Palm Beach International Airport tonight for a weekend trip that included a Saturday fundraiser for his 2020 re-election campaign at Mar-a-Lago. The official who confirmed today’s travel is off did not address the president’s plans for the remainder of the weekend. Trump was planning to make the 12th Palm Beach visit of his presidency. But Congress has not reached a spending agreement to keep the federal government operating past midnight. Saturday is the one-year anniversary of Trump taking office. The Trump campaign recently announced a “special sweepstakes” in which a winner will get to attend dinner Saturday at Mar-a-Lago with Trump, first lady Melania Trump and Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump.
  • Police in Florida arrested a 28-year-old man on suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol after authorities said he attempted to order a burrito from a Bank of America after confusing it for a Taco Bell, according to multiple reports. >> Read more trending news Records from the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office show authorities arrested Douglas Jon Francisco, 28, on Wednesday. The manager of the Bank of America branch on Mariner Boulevard in Spring Hill, Martin Claussen, called authorities Wednesday afternoon after he said he found a blue Hyundai in the bank’s drive-up bank lane with a man who appeared to be passed out inside, WTSP reported. Claussen said he had to bang on the car window several times before Francisco awoke, according to the Tampa Bay Times. When Francisco saw the bank manager, deputies said he tried to order a burrito. >> Read more Floridoh! stories  Claussen told Francisco that he was not at a Taco Bell and Francisco drove the Hyundai to the bank’s front parking lot, according to the Times. Deputies said he was in the front parking lot, the car still idling, when authorities arrived. In an arrest report, a deputy wrote that Francisco “made several statements that were differing from reality” and denied asking Claussen for a burrito. Deputies said his responses during a field sobriety test “were slow in a way that was consistent with someone on prescription narcotics,” WTSP reported. He was given a drug test, the results of which were pending. During a search of the Hyundai, deputies said they found prescription medication that had been made out in Francisco’s name, according to the Times. Jail records show Francisco was booked into the Hernando County Detention Center around 5:30 p.m. Wednesday and released Thursday afternoon on a $500 bond.
  • As much of the nation deals with a widespread flu season-- Florida is no different. The Florida Department of Health says flu activity is high statewide and continues to increase, with those increases observed in all regions.  The department says since the start of the 2017-2018 flu season, there have been 107 total outbreaks of the flu and a flu-like illness. This is more outbreaks than what's usually seen at this time in flu season.  According to the health department stats, nearly all of the outbreaks, 94%, have been in facilities that serve people a higher risk for flu complications, such as children and adults, 65 and older, like schools and healthcare facilities.  Duval and Baker counties are among those experiencing recent outbreaks.  In Duval County, the health department says a nursing and rehabilitation center reported 4 residents with a flu-like illness, which then tested positive for influenza A. Two long-term care facilities also reported a combined 15 individuals with flu-like illnesses. One group later tested positive for influenza B; the investigation into the other illness is still ongoing.  Meanwhile, in Baker County, outbreaks of a flu-like illness have been reported at a health care facility and a long-term care facility, involving a combined total of 15 people. Testing is ongoing in both cases.  With all of these recent outbreaks, the department of health says you should get a flu shot if you haven't already.  If you do get sick, it's recommended that you stay home until you're fever-free for at least 24 hours, without the use of fever-reducing medication.
  • A woman died Friday after falling from the balcony of a room on the Jacksonville-based Carnival Elation cruise ship. The woman fell from the balcony to several decks below, Carnival said in a statement. Carnival Elation departed Jacksonville on Thursday for a four-day cruise to the Bahamas. Carnival sent the following statement to Action News Jax: .@CarnivalCruise confirms woman died today after falling from balcony aboard Jacksonville-based Carnival Elation @ActionNewsJax @WOKVNews pic.twitter.com/1anriQWt1g — Lorena Inclán (@LorenaANjax) January 19, 2018 'Early this morning a guest fell from her balcony to several decks below. The ship’s medical team responded immediately, but, unfortunately, she passed away. The incident was reported to all proper authorities and CARE Team support was offered to fellow travelers and her family. Our thoughts and prayers are with the deceased and her family. Carnival Elation departed Jacksonville Jan. 18 on a four-day cruise to the Bahamas.
  • The week started with a little trash talk from the underdog . The rest of it was dominated by speculation about a certain 40-year-old quarterback's injured throwing hand .Plenty of intrigue for when the Jaguars and Patriots meet in Sunday's AFC championship game?New England (14-3), the defending Super Bowl champion, is favored heading into its seventh straight conference title game. But the polished veneer it normally displays at this time of year is showing flecks of imperfection after Tom Brady injured his right hand during practice.The injury kept Brady limited in workouts to begin the week and caused him to sit out practice entirely on Thursday.Brady has never missed a playoff start during his 18-year career that includes four Super Bowl MPV honors. He said a bit contentiously only 'We'll see' on Friday when asked if he would play Sunday.He wore red gloves and responded to other questions about the hand's status by saying 'I'm not talking about that.'The Patriots' top-ranked offense will need another signature performance from Brady against the Jaguars' second-ranked defense .Jacksonville (12-6), trying to earn a trip to its first Super Bowl, has scored eight defensive touchdowns this season, three more than any other team. That's the most defensive touchdowns in a season by one team since the 2012 Bears.Brady has faced a top-2 scoring defense in the playoffs three times, going 3-0 with a passer rating of 100-plus in each game.Jaguars defensive end Calais Campbell said their respect for Brady is high. Then he dismissed the notion that anyone in Jacksonville felt like the Jags were simply playing with 'house money' after surprising Pittsburgh in the divisional round.'We have earned the right to be here,' he said. 'We have put a lot of time and effort in, so this is an opportunity we feel like we deserve and we have prepared for. I can honestly say I expected to be here.'Jacksonville will also be up against history: The Patriots have won the past seven meetings with the Jaguars and two straight in the postseason. Since Jacksonville entered the NFL in 1995, it is 1-10 against the Patriots, including playoff games.'We are going to go out and there do everything possible to stay alive and earn the right to be in the Super Bowl,' Campbell said. 'They say you have to beat the best to be the best, so I can't wait to get out there and try.'Quarterback Blake Bortles, who has been the subject of criticism at times during his career , said Sunday isn't about trying to prove anyone wrong.'I don't think so. Personally, I do not care,' he said.Here are some things to watch for:FOURNETTE'S HEALTH: Jaguars rookie RB Leonard Fournette said he is feeling 'good' after he was rear-ended in what authorities say was a minor three-car crash early in the week.Fournette ran for 109 yards and three touchdowns against the Steelers despite reinjuring his right ankle in the first half. It was his most productive game in three months.'I feel good in spite of the ankle and stuff,' Fournette said. 'Just taking care of my body, but overall I feel good.'BULLETIN BOARD MATERIAL? All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey caused a stir when he told thousands of fans awaiting the team's return after their win over the Steelers that the Jaguars 'are going to the Super Bowl and we are going to win that (expletive).'Asked about Ramsey's comment, Patriots special teams captain Matt Slater said Ramsey has reason to show confidence.'He should be confident, because he is very, very good,' Slater said. 'The good Lord made that guy, and he said, 'Let there be corner.' And there he is. I'd be confident if I were him as well.'CONTAINING GRONK: Coach Doug Marrone has seen plenty of Rob Gronkowski dating back to his stint as Buffalo's head coach. His approach to trying to slow down a tight end he calls a 'nightmare' of a matchup hasn't changed much.'Hope they do not throw him the football. Hope he drops it,' Marrone said. 'There is no secret formula. I'd like to watch a game where someone has been able to do it. He is going to make his plays and you hope those plays don't end up killing you.'In his past six postseason games, Gronk has 512 yards receiving and seven touchdowns. He is looking for his seventh playoff game in a row with a TD catch.SIZING THEM UP: Brandin Cooks is used to being underestimated because of his size. So the 5-foot-10 Patriots receiver isn't worried about matching up against the taller players in Jacksonville's secondary.Both Jaguars starting cornerbacks, Ramsey and A.J. Bouye, are listed at 6-foot-1 and 6-0 respectively.'I mean, you go and play,' Cooks said. 'We're not talking measurements at this point in the season, you know?'Cooks said Bouye he's gotten better since he faced him during joint practices this summer.'At the end of the day they're physical. And that's how they play,' Cooks said. 'And they use that to their strength. So we gotta be ready to be able to match that physicality.'___AP Sports Writer Mark Long in Jacksonville, Florida contributed to his report.___For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP_NFL

The Latest News Videos