Jacksonville, FL — The defense has rested in the federal fraud trial of now-former Congresswoman Corrine Brown, and with no rebuttal from the government, closing arguments have been scheduled for Monday.
This comes after an emotional day on the stand for Brown- at one point the judge calling for a short break as she broke down. At the time, Brown was being questioned by prosecutors about the cash she received from her Chief of Staff Ronnie Simmons.
“At no point did I think one penny of the money Ronnie was taking from his account was stolen money,” Brown said.
As she started sobbing and asked for a break, the jury was sent out. As they filed out, Brown said- loud enough to be heard over the courtroom noise- “He tried to destroy my life”.
Brown has not been able to offer much of an explanation for how she didn’t notice close to $142,000 was deposited in to her account over several years.
“I had Christmas, I had birthdays, I had boyfriends,” she said.
Some of the money from the alleged “sham” charity One Door For Education was funneled through the business of a part-time staffer of Brown’s, according to prior testimony. Brown says she believed that to be the staffer paying Brown back for money she had loaned. Brown didn’t know how much she had loaned this staffer, saying only that she was always needing money.
The government asked why that staffer didn’t just testify that she was repaying loans, as opposed to saying Brown directed her how to fill out checks, cash them, and deposit the money.
“She told you all that and you didn’t want to hear it,” Brown responded.
Assistant US Attorney A. Tysen Duva then followed up by asking if anyone else had testified that- as Brown claimed- this staffer said she would have to say certain things or potentially face indictment.
“I didn’t see another parrot in the courtroom programmed to say exactly what was told to her,” Brown responded.
She admitted again to making mistakes by not managing her personal finances and office staff more closely. She says she takes “most” of the responsibility for that, but also looks at Simmons and others as sharing in the blame.
Simmons pleaded guilty in connection to this case and testified for the prosecution earlier this week. The third alleged co-conspirator, Carla Wiley, also pleaded guilty and testified.
This is a developing story that will be updated through the day. WOKV is inside of the courtroom getting the latest information.