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Detailing the specific federal charges facing now-former Congresswoman Corrine Brown

Detailing the specific federal charges facing now-former Congresswoman Corrine Brown

Detailing the specific federal charges facing now-former Congresswoman Corrine Brown
Photo Credit: Action News Jax
Now-former Congresswoman Corrine Brown at the federal courthouse in Downtown Jacksonville

Detailing the specific federal charges facing now-former Congresswoman Corrine Brown

All of the arguments have been laid out in the federal fraud trial of now-former Congresswoman Corrine Brown, and the jury is deliberating the 22 counts she is facing.

With all of the testimony and evidence that’s been presented, understanding the different charges can become a muddled experience. WOKV is breaking each down so you can better understand the verdicts once they come in.

FULL COVERAGE: The federal fraud trial of now-former Rep. Corrine Brown

Brown is one of three people that have been implicated in this case. Her Chief of Staff Ronnie Simmons and the President of One Door For Education Carla Wiley have both pleaded guilty for their roles. Prosecutors say the three solicited more than $800,000 in donations to One Door- which they promoted as a non-profit, although it was never properly registered- and used that money for their personal expenses and “lavish” events instead.

Count 1: Conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud

This count builds off the subsequent ones, which deal with specific instances of alleged mail or wire fraud. It’s designed to encompass the greater “scheme”- that Brown and the others intentionally misled donors while soliciting their money, by promoting One Door as a non-profit and telling the donors their money would go toward scholarship or other charitable purposes. Instead, Wiley has admitted to siphoning some of that money for her personal expenses, and separately Simmons admits to profiting off the donations as well- but says many of the transactions he performed with One Door funds were at Brown’s direction

This scheme included leveraging Brown’s position as a Congresswoman to solicit the donations and using her image to promote the validity of One Door, including having several photos of Brown on the group’s website.

Brown continues to maintain that any time she solicited money for One Door, she did so believing they were doing legitimate charitable work. She and Simmons further testified that they always intended for their events to raise money for scholarships, but Simmons added that the events themselves were always so expensive that they weren’t successful.

The alleged conspiracy included emails, FedEx mailings and other communication that crossed state lines or involved federal delivery, leading to the mail and wire fraud charges.

In addition to the transactions detailed in specific charges below, the conspiracy count includes the tens of thousands of dollars Simmons withdrew from the One Door account and deposited in Brown’s account- allegedly at her direction. It also involves the roughly $330,000 in One Door funds that apparently went to hosting events that were organized by or honored Brown.

Brown testified that One Door is one of many organizations she worked with and that she was not very familiar with their stated purpose or how the group is run. She told the court that when she would personally raise money, she was always seeking to do it first for her campaign fund, Friends of Corrine Brown. Prosecutors showed through witness testimony and documents, though, that One Door is one of a small group that Brown would actively solicit for, in addition to Friends of Corrine Brown, her legal fund, and her PAC Florida Leadership Delivers.

Brown additionally says she increasingly relied on Simmons and some of her staff to handle her finances and personal affairs. She says Simmons took advantage of that trust.

Count 2: Aiding and abetting mail fraud

Along with the check referenced in Count 3, this check for $5,000 from Picerne Development to One Door was solicited by Brown to specifically benefit the alleged non-profit’s charitable work. Donor John Picerne and his Director of Government Affairs, Don Miller, testified that they believed donations from the company would have an impact on children specifically, with Picerne himself very passionate about charitable causes involving children.

This check was sent through FedEx on June 3rd, 2013 from Picerne Development in Altamonte Springs, FL, to Simmons’ home in Laurel, MD.

Count 3: Aiding and abetting mail fraud

This July 2, 2013 FedEx mailing from Altamonte Springs, FL to Simmons’ home in Laurel, MD is similar to the solicitation referenced in Count 2. Picerne Development gave another $5,000 to One Door, following a solicitation from Brown, according to testimony.

Count 4: Aiding and abetting mail fraud

Picerne Development wrote a check for $28,700 to One Door in September 2013. As with the others, it was FedExed from Altamonte Springs, FL to Simmons’ home in Laurel Maryland.

While the company’s Director of Government Affairs Don Miller wasn’t involved in the solicitation and, therefore, wasn’t sure what the money would have been for, prosecutors pointed out that this came the same month as an annual reception Brown would host in conjunction with the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Annual Legislative Conference. The reception was hosted by One Door, and prosecutors say many donors who contributed to the group expecting the money to go to charity, actually had their donations poured in to these events, which cost tens of thousands of dollars each year.

The defense counters that, while there was no scholarship money raised at these events, they provided valuable networking opportunities and always sought to boost donations.

Count 5: Aiding and abetting mail fraud

Brown hosted an event called “Jacksonville Goes to Washington” in late 2014, wherein a small group of people were flown with her on a private plane to a Jaguars-Redskins game in DC. The group then watched the game in a luxury suite, and everyone was flown back on the private plane- although Brown did not make the return trip. Both Brown and Simmons say the group was potential One Door donors, and they were hoping to solicit money during the trip, although that didn’t happen.

Jack Hanania committed to a $7,000 donation to One Door and was then invited on this trip. He testified that he believed his donation would go toward the charitable purpose of One Door, and that he was invited to attend the game after the fact. Prosecutors say Hanania’s money actually went toward some of the event costs, despite the commitment that the money would be for charity. The defense argued it was made clear to Hanania at the time that his money was payment for the trip.

The check was sent via FedEx from Jacksonville to Virginia. Count 14 of the indictment is also connected to this charge.

The man who donated the plane, Stephen Bittel, says he was told the plane was going to be transporting potential donors to a fundraising event. There was no money raised for One Door, and Hanania says he didn’t participate in any conversations about the group while he was there.

Count 6: Aiding and abetting mail fraud

Bright House Networks wrote a check for $10,000 to One Door for a table at the Phoenix Awards dinner at the 2014 Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Annual Legislative Conference, following an invoice One Door sent to them. Marva Brown Johnson, with Bright House, says she had been inspired by Brown to attend the event.

The CBCF says they received no money from One Door, though. Simmons testified that Brown was able to get seats at tables as she needed through corporations who bought tables and donated back seats they weren’t using. Lawmakers were also able to purchase a table at a reduced price. Simmons says they got Brown Johnson a seat through those means, not through purchasing a table with her check.

This mail fraud charge deals with the $10,000 check being sent from Brown Johnson, in Maitland, FL.

Count 7: Aiding and abetting mail fraud

Brown solicited a $10,000 donation from Richard Lipsky during a trip to tour his hospital facility in New Jersey. Lipsky testified that Brown was seeking the money to use to print a commemorative edition of Onyx magazine, but that she was unsure who to make the check out to, so Lipsky left the “pay to” line blank, but put “printing” in the memo line. 

The check was then sent via FedEx from Brown’s Congressional office in DC to Brown’s District office in Jacksonville, to the attention of part-time staffer Von Alexander. The check was made out to The Alexander Agency, and Alexander testified she was instructed by Brown to write checks to cash and make cash deposits over the next several days. Alexander says Brown told her to deposit $3,000 with Brown and $1,000 with Shantrel on September 22, 2014; deposit $2,000 with Shantrel September 23; and deposit $1,000 with Brown and $1,000 with Shantrel on September 29.

Simmons was not on the trip where Brown solicited this check.

This count deals specifically with the mailing of this check from Brown’s office in DC to the District office in Jacksonville. It is related to Count 15.

Count 8: Aiding and abetting mail fraud

In September 2015, Simmons emailed Marva Brown Johnson, an employee of Bright House, with an invoice for a $10,000 donation to One Door “For Annual Student Scholarships”. The email, showed during testimony, included Simmons telling Brown Johnson she had made the day “a good day” with the donation.

Simmons emailed Brown Johnson a FedEx tracking label with which to send the donation. The mailing went from Orlando, FL to Simmons’ home in Laurel, MD. Brown Johnson used that label to send the donation, leading to the mail charge count.

Count 16 and Count 17, which are wire fraud charges, also relate to this transaction.

Count 9: Aiding and abetting wire fraud

Simmons and Jessica Lazzara Wynne- on behalf of the Lazzara Family Foundation- emailed back and forth in June 2013 to follow up on a conversation between Brown and Gasper Lazzara. The email indicated Lazzara had agreed to pay $5,000 to reimburse Brown for out of pocket expenses connected to a computer drive for a service project she was involved in. Lazzara Wynne told Simmons they could not give directly to Brown, because they could only donate to 501(c)(3) groups. She had further learned One Door For Education- where Simmons told her to write the check to- was not a registered non-profit either.

Simmons then told Lazzara Wynne to make the check out to the Community Rehabilitation Center instead. She emailed back, confused about the reason the money would go to that group and saying Lazzara wanted to be sure his money was going where he promised it would. Ultimately, Lazzara Wynne did not send the money.

Prosecutors say Brown did not actually pay out of pocket for those computers, with testimony showing the cost was covered by another person involved with the service project. That person testified that there were ancillary costs with the computers, including equipping them with software and accessories, but there was no direct testimony or evidence showing how much that cost or who covered it.

Count 10: Aiding and abetting wire fraud

A One Door check for $3,055.16 was made out to The Alexander Agency, a business of part-time Brown staffer Von Alexander. Alexander then made out a $3,000 check from her business to cash, and ultimately deposited $2,000 in cash in to Brown’s Bank of America personal account at a branch in Jacksonville.

Alexander testified that the check was supposed to cover the balance Simmons owed at the hotel where several people- including Brown- had stayed for a golf tournament Brown hosted at TPC Sawgrass. Brown told Alexander that the cash she was receiving from this transaction was because she had taken some money out of her own pocket, and was seeking reimbursement.

Count 11: Aiding and abetting wire fraud

Brown’s staffer Von Alexander wasn’t completely sure how she had received the check connected to this charge, saying many times she got them from Brown, but there would occasionally be different elements filled in.

Alexander deposited a $2,086.10 One Door check in to The Alexander Agency’s bank account. Because of the way the different banks operate, that check was funded through a wire transfer that crossed state lines, according to a stipulation agreed to by both sides in this trial.

Alexander then wrote a $500 check to cash from the business and deposited $400 in to Brown’s account. The next day, Alexander wrote another check to cash from her business for $1,250- depositing the same amount with Brown.

Brown again told Alexander that she was getting reimbursements for the invitational golf tournament through this check, according to Alexander’s testimony. Alexander asked for supporting documents, and she says Brown told her to get it from Simmons. Alexander says she rarely received any supporting documents from Simmons.

Count 12: Aiding and abetting wire fraud

Alexander deposited a One Door check for $2,500 in to The Alexander Agency’s bank account on September 3, 2013. A few days later, she wrote a check to cash off the business for $1,800. $900 in cash was deposited in Brown’s account and $900 in cash was deposited with her daughter, Shantrel Brown.

This check had “consultant” in the memo line. While Alexander says she got the check from Simmons, she testified that Brown instructed her how to fill it out and how to work the cash transactions and deposits.

Count 13: Aiding and abetting wire fraud

On September 9, 2013, a $2,000 One Door check was deposited with The Alexander Agency. Within a few days, Alexander wrote a $1,700 check to cash from the business, and deposited $1,000 cash in to Brown’s account. She then deposited $500 in Shantrel Brown’s account as well.

This is another check where Alexander says she was given a signed blank check by Brown, who then instructed her how to deposit it.

Count 14: Aiding and abetting wire fraud

This charge is closely connected to Count 5, where a donor- Jack Hanania- was solicited for a $7,000 donation to One Door, and then taken on a trip to a Jags-Redskins game in the DC area. Simmons emailed Hanania a FedEx label to use to send the check. This wire fraud count deals with the email of that label.

Count 15: Aiding and abetting wire fraud

This charge is connected to Count 7, where Brown is accused of soliciting a $10,000 check from a donor to use for printing a commemorative edition of a magazine, but instead funneling the money through the business of a Jacksonville staffer and pocketing much of it. The wire fraud charge stems from the deposit of that $10,000 check in to the bank account of the staffer’s business, The Alexander Agency.

Count 16: Aiding and abetting wire fraud

This wire fraud charge relates to Count 8 and Count 17 of the indictment. Simmons emailed Marva Brown Johnson an invoice seeking a $10,000 donation to One Door for “Annual Student Scholarships”. This solicitation and invoice is the backing for this wire fraud count.

Count 17: Aiding and abetting wire fraud

This wire fraud count also relates to Count 8 of the indictment, as well as Count 16. Simmons emailed Marva Brown Johnson a FedEx label with which to send a $10,000 donation from her employer, Bright House, to One Door For Education. 

Count 19: Scheme to conceal material facts

This charge is something the judge deliberated at length with attorneys during a hearing Friday, after the jury had been sent home. It includes several years of Brown’s financial disclosure forms from her time in Congress, where prosecutors alleged she underreported her income by not disclosing money she received from One Door and other means. The financial disclosures are required of sitting Congresspersons and some senior staff, in order to provide transparency to the general public about their elected officials’ liabilities and assets.

When the judge questioned prosecutors why multiple years of disclosures were included under one count, prosecutors responded that this charge doesn’t deal with any specific year’s filing, but rather the greater scheme.

While acknowledging that there is not a lot of case law to support how they’re interpreting this charge- which they say generally deals with an issue like lying to the FBI- prosecutors allege that the false financial filings are just a few components of a larger scheme Brown led to earn money, conceal it, and not disclose it to the general public.

The judge questioned not only the legal basis for the charge, but whether the money from One Door would be considered “earned income” under the disclosure law. Ultimately, he let the charge stand, but told attorneys he would be willing to revisit it after the verdict, if needed.

Count 21: Corrupt endeavor to obstruct and impede the due administration of the internal revenue laws

Similar to the relationship between the mail fraud and wire fraud charges and the more broad conspiracy charge, prosecutors have filed this count as a sort of umbrella over the subsequent false income tax return charges.

The government alleges that Brown actively sought to impede the IRS by concealing some of her income and inflating charitable donations. This count includes Brown’s alleged actions- from giving her staff figures on charitable contributions that were higher than what she actually donated, to instructing her staff not to include some receipts, to verifying false information directly to her CPA.

Brown has admitted mistakes in these returns, but says that any problem was not intentional criminal wrongdoing. She says she was so consumed with her Congressional work, that she didn’t take the time to pay attention to her personal finances and office management. She denied intentionally misleading anyone in regard to her contributions.

Count 22: Filing false individual income tax return

In every tax year, Brown reported income based solely on her House of Representatives salary and pension from her time in the Florida House. Prosecutors say Brown should have disclosed money she was receiving from One Door, although Brown testified that she didn’t realize she was getting money from the organization.

In addition to allegedly underreporting her income, Brown allegedly overreported her charitable contributions.

2012 is the first year Brown’s return did not include a receipt from Bethel Baptist, where she worships and contributes every year. The receipt was later found in a file kept by one of her staffers who would help with her tax returns. That staffer, Carolyn Chatman, says anything she did or did not include in the return was at Brown’s direction.

The Bethel Baptist donation Brown claimed was higher than what the receipt showed, by $280. Brown additionally claimed a $1,000 donation to New Destiny Christian Center, although their records show no contribution this year. Brown also claimed a $12,500 donation to One Door For Education, which is the first time the group surfaced on her returns. 

A note initially claiming the donation on tax prep work papers show Simmons initially wrote the donation, but Brown’s tax preparer Dawn Wright documented that she verbally confirmed it with Brown herself as well.

Brown did not make any monetary donations to One Door in this tax year or any that followed.

Count 23: Filing false individual income tax return

Tax Year 2013 again allegedly underreported Brown’s income and inflated charitable giving.

While Brown would always wait until tax filing deadlines were maxed out to actually file the return, this year specifically prosecutors showed communication with the tax preparer and Brown’s staff expressing frustration about trying to finalize everything in time.

Donations claimed to Bethel Baptist, One Door, and New Destiny Christian Center all were not supported by receipts. New Destiny and Bethel Baptist both testified that their records do not match Brown’s claims.- receipts show a $3,445 contribution from Brown to Bethel Baptist, while Brown claimed $6,100; and receipts show a $50 contribution to New Destiny, while Brown claimed $2,500. She further claimed $5,000 toward One Door.

Count 24: Filing false individual income tax return

Simmons admits to signing Brown’s return this year, 2014, because he says Brown was flying at the time and they were down to the wire to get the return submitted.

This was another year where Brown allegedly overstated her contributions to a number of entities. Brown claimed a $3,500 donation to the Clara White Mission, but that group’s records showed nothing. Bethel Baptist’s records showed Brown contributed $4,378, but Brown claimed $7,200. There was a $6,500 claimed donation to the Community Rehabilitation Center, which the center had no record of, and another $2,500 donation to New Destiny that also wasn’t backed by any record. This is all in addition to another $7,000 donation to One Door, which prosecutors say never existed.

Brown’s tax preparer Dawn Wright testified that she was becoming uncomfortable with how much documentation was falling off over the years, but there is ultimately no requirement that donations be backed with documentation, so she took Brown’s word.

WOKV is in the courtroom as jury deliberations continue. Get frequent updates by following our reporter Stephanie Brown on Twitter.

A day and a half of deliberations, still no jury questions. What we know twelve hours in to verdict watch in the federal fraud trial of now-former Congresswoman Corrine Brown:

Posted by News 104.5 WOKV on Tuesday, May 9, 2017

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Along the way, we hope the anticipation of staging the Masters Tournament in the fall brings a moment of joy to the Augusta community and all those who love the sport.” New York City considering ‘temporary interment’ for COVID-19 victims Update 11:30 a.m. EDT April 6: Mark Levine, chair of the New York City health committee, said Monday that officials are preparing for the possibility that some people may need to be temporarily interred as morgues and funeral homes become overwhelmed during the coronavirus pandemic. “Soon we’ll start ‘temporary interment,’” Levine said Monday in a tweet. “This will likely be done by using a (New York City) park for burials. ... Trenches will be dug for 10 caskets in a line.' In a follow-up tweet, Levine highlighted that officials are only preparing for the possibility and that “if the death rate drops enough it will not be necessary.” Earlier Monday, he said the city morgue, hospital morgues, funeral homes and cemeteries had been dealing with “the equivalent of an ongoing 9/11.” “Nothing matters more in this crisis than saving the living,” he said. “But we need to face the gruesome reality that we need more resources to manage our dead as well. Or the pain of this crisis will be compounded almost beyond comprehension.” Allstate to return $600M in auto premiums to customers Update 11:10 a.m. EDT April 6: The Good Hands People plan to put money back in their customers’ hands. Insurance giant Allstate announced Monday that it would return more than $600 million in auto insurance premiums to customers, who have been driving less as states have implemented stay-at-home or shelter-in-place orders to battle the coronavirus. 533 new coronavirus cases reported in Indiana Update 11:05 a.m. EDT April 6: Officials in Indiana announced 533 new reported coronavirus cases Monday, raising the state’s total number of cases to 4,944. Officials also reported a dozen new fatal COVID-19 cases. Statewide, 139 people have died of coronavirus. British Open Championship golf tournament canceled for 1st time since WWII Update 11 a.m. EDT April 6: Organizers on Monday announced the cancellation of golf’s oldest championship tournament due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The R&A announced the decision to cancel The Open Championship based on guidance from the U.K. government, health officials and others. Officials said the 149th Open will be played July 11 - July 18, 2021. Coronavirus cases among active duty military members tops 1,000 Update 10:35 a.m. EDT April 6: The Pentagon said the number of COVID-19 cases in the active duty force topped 1,000 over the weekend. There are a total of 1,132 confirmed cases as of Monday morning. The total was 978 on Friday. There also have been 303 cases among members of the National Guard. Among the military services, the Navy has the most cases, with 431. That includes more than 150 among the crew of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt. Restaurant Employee Relief Fund to take applications beginning Monday Update 10:25 a.m. EDT April 6: The National Restaurant Association has set up the Restaurant Employee Relief fund to give grants of $500 full- or part-time restaurant employees struggling as the coronavirus pandemic shutters restaurants nationwide. Officials with the National Restaurant Association said the fund was supposed to open for applications earlier, but the server hosting the application process was overwhelmed shortly after opening. “We are deeply humbled by and grateful for the opportunity to provide support to restaurant employees. Almost immediately after opening the application process, extremely high user volume overwhelmed the application platform. We are continuing to upgrade our system to improve site functionality and expand capacity,' the group said on the application website. Stocks rise on signs of progress battling COVID-19 Update 9:50 a.m. EDT April 6: Stocks jumped in markets around the world Monday after some of the hardest-hit areas offered sparks of hope that the worst of the coronavirus outbreak may be on the horizon. U.S. stocks climbed more than 3% in the first few minutes of trading, following similar gains in Europe and Asia. In another sign that investors are feeling more optimistic about the economy’s path, the yield on the 10-year Treasury was headed for its first gain in four days. Oil prices fell after a meeting between Russia and OPEC aimed at defusing a price war was pushed back a few days. Wells Fargo closes application window for Paycheck Protection Program Update 9:35 a.m. EDT April 6: Officials with Wells Fargo announced Monday that the bank will no longer be accepting applications for a new federal program aimed at helping small businesses retain and pay workers amid the coronavirus outbreak.  In a statement Sunday, bank officials said they aimed to distribute $10 billion in loans under the government’s Paycheck Protection Program. Funding for the program was included in a $2.2 billion economic relief package to help Americans struggling in the pandemic.  Wells Fargo officials said Monday in a statement that they expected to “fill the company’s capacity to lend under the program” with the applications they’ve already received. The application window had opened Friday.  “Given the exceptionally high volume of requests we have already received, we will not be able to accept any additional requests for a loan through the Paycheck Protection Program,” company officials said in a notice posted Monday. “We will review all expressions of interest submitted by customers via our online form through April 5 and provide updates in the coming days.” Without precautions ‘we could have another peak in a few weeks,’ US official says Update 9:10 a.m. EDT April 6: Admiral Dr. Brett Giroir, assistant secretary for health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said Monday that people need to continue to take social distancing and other measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus. “Everyone is susceptible to this and everyone needs to follow the precautions that we’ve laid out,” Giroir said during an appearance on NBC’s “today” show Monday. “If we let our foot off the gas and start doing things that are ill-advised, we could have another peak in a few weeks. ... We have to completely keep our efforts going.” Officials recommend that Americans stay home as much as possible and keep at least 6 feet of distance from other people. They’ve also urged that people wear cloth face masks in public to stymie the spread of the virus. UK prime minister says he’s in ‘good spirits’ after hospitalization Update 8:55 a.m. EDT April 6: Prime Minister Boris Johnson of the United Kingdom said in a tweet Monday morning that he’s “in good spirits” after being hospitalized with coronavirus symptoms. Ten days before his hospitalization, Johnson had tested positive for COVID-19. “Last night, on the advice of my doctor, I went into hospital for some routine tests as I’m still experiencing coronavirus symptoms,” Johnson said. “I’m in good spirits and keeping in touch with my team as we work together to fight this virus and keep everyone safe.” Britain’s Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, out of isolation Update 7:55 a.m. EDT April 6: Britain’s Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, is no longer in self-isolation, ITV and other news outlets are reporting. Although the 72-year-old, who is married to Prince Charles, tested negative for coronavirus, she went into self-isolation for two weeks because her husband had tested positive for COVID-19. Charles, 71, spent seven days in quarantine after displaying mild symptoms and left self-isolation March 30. Camilla and Charles have been staying in Scotland, ITV reported. Death rates in Spain, Italy appear to be slowing Update 7:21 a.m. EDT April 6: The rates of coronavirus deaths in Spain and Italy, the two European countries hit hardest by the coronavirus outbreak, appear to be slowing. According to CNN, Spanish health officials said Monday that 637 people died from the virus in the past day, an increase of 5.1% from the number of deaths reported Sunday. That marks “the lowest daily rise, percentage-wise, since early March,” CNN reported. Meanwhile, Italian officials on Sunday reported that 525 people died from the virus in the past 24 hours, marking the country’s “lowest death rate in two weeks,' according to CNN. As of Monday morning, Spain had reported the second-highest number of infections worldwide, with 131,646 cases and 12,641 deaths, while Italy had reported the third-highest number of infections, with 128,948 cases and 15,887 deaths, Johns Hopkins University reported. Only the United States had reported more overall cases. London’s West End theaters cancel all shows through May 31 Update 6:23 a.m. EDT April 6: London’s West End theaters are canceling all shows through May 31 amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Society of London Theatre announced Monday. The theaters previously had announced a shutdown through April 26, according to the Hollywood Reporter. “We are now canceling all performances up until and including 31 May 2020 to help us process existing bookings whilst we wait for further clarity from the government in terms of when we will be able to reopen,” the society said in a statement. As of Monday morning, at least 48,440 coronavirus cases and 4,943 deaths had been reported in the United Kingdom, according to Johns Hopkins University. Read more here. FedEx pilots removed from duty following ‘inconclusive’ COVID-19 test results Update 5:14 a.m. EDT April 6: FedEx flew some pilots back to the United States after they received inconclusive test results for COVID-19. According to WHBQ in Memphis, Tennessee, the pilots were removed from service and are self-isolating while follow-up testing and evaluation is being performed, according to FedEx. The exact number of pilots removed is unclear. The company released a statement Sunday: “Some FedEx pilots were flown back to the U.S. after receiving inconclusive test results for COVID-19. They have been removed from duty and are self-isolating while follow-up testing and evaluation is performed. All areas where these team members worked are being thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. The safety and well-being of our employees remains our first concern. FedEx continues to take all necessary precautions and follow guidance from the FAA, CDC and other public health organizations related to reporting and containment of COVID-19. We continue our operation in China and remain committed to providing the best possible service to our customers.“ Dozens of Massachusetts firefighters test positive for COVID-19 Update 4:32 a.m. EDT April 6: At least 87 firefighters in Massachusetts have tested positive for coronavirus as of Sunday, according to The Professional Fire Firefighters of Massachusetts. Boston’s WFXT reports that 1,814 firefighters have a documented exposure to COVID-19, 831 have been tested for the virus and 583 are currently under quarantine. In Taunton, nine firefighters have tested positive for coronavirus. “These numbers are alarming, but firefighters across Massachusetts and the United States will continue to answer your calls for service,” the labor union posted on Twitter on Sunday night. “Please help us help you – Stay home.” >> See the tweet here The numbers encompass 201 locals representing 11,106 members, which account for 97% of the union’s membership. On Sunday, a coronavirus testing site for only first responders opened at Gillette Stadium. Duran Duran’s John Taylor recovers after testing positive for COVID-19 Update 3:30 a.m. EDT April 6: Duran Duran’s John Taylor is feeling better weeks after he tested positive for the novel coronavirus, he wrote Sunday in a post on the band’s Facebook page. According to USA Today, the 59-year-old bass player said he was diagnosed three weeks ago and has since recovered. “After a week or so of what I would describe as a ‘turbo-charged flu,’ I came out of it feeling OK – although I must admit I didn’t mind the quarantine as it gave me the chance to really recover,” he wrote. “I am speaking out in answer to the enormous amount of fear being generated by the pandemic, some of it entirely justified, and my heart goes out to everyone who has had to deal with real loss and pain. But I want to let you know that it isn’t always a killer, and we can and will beat this thing.” >> See the post here Taylor added that he “cannot wait to be back onstage again, sharing new music, love and joy.” Singer-songwriter Christopher Cross tests positive for COVID-19 Update 2:35 a.m. EDT April 6: Singer-songwriter Christopher Cross has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, he said in an Instagram post Friday. “I’m sorry to report that I am among the growing number of Americans who tested positive for the COVID-19,” he wrote in the post. “I’m not in the habit of discussing medical issues on social media, but I do so in the hopes that this will help other people to understand how serious and how contagious this illness is. Although I am fortunate enough to be cared for at home, this is possibly the worst illness I have ever had.” >> See the post here Cross, 68, also urged his fans to take the virus seriously and stay home, wash their hands and avoid touching their faces. “For those of you who still do not believe the COVID-19 virus is real, or think it is a ‘hoax’ or part of some conspiracy, my advice to you is to understand right now that this is a deadly illness spreading like wildfire throughout the world,” the Grammy Award winner wrote, encouraging followers to visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website. He added that everyone should “be kind to one another.' “Only if we work together can we defeat COVID-19,' he wrote. Several other celebrities, including Pink, Tom Hanks, Rita Wilson, Idris Elba and CNN’s Chris Cuomo, have tested positive for the virus. Delta announces changes to SkyMiles, Medallion programs Update 1:49 a.m. EDT April 6: The coronavirus pandemic has brought the airline industry nearly to a halt. In March, Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines announced that its revenue fell by $2 billion due to the spread of COVID-19 and a drop in demand for air travel. On Sunday, Delta Air Lines has begun notifying its flyers about changes to its well-known SkyMiles program due to the sudden drop in air travel. “On behalf of all of us at Delta, I want to thank our customers for your continued loyalty during these unprecedented times. While our focus is on keeping customers and employees safe and healthy today and always, you are a part of the Delta family and we know how important these benefits are to you,” said Sandeep Dube, Delta’s senior vice president of customer engagement and loyalty, and CEO of Delta Vacations. “That’s why as coronavirus continues to dramatically impact travel across the globe, you don’t have to worry about your benefits – they’ll be extended so you can enjoy them when you are ready to travel again.” Here are the changes: Medallion Members: All Medallion Status for 2020 will be automatically extended for the 2021 Medallion Year. All Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) from 2020 are being rolled over to 2021 to qualify for 2022 Medallion Status. Delta Sky Club Individual and Executive memberships with an expiration of March 1, 2020, or later will receive six additional months of Delta Sky Club access beyond their expiration date. Delta SkyMiles American Express Card Members: If you have one of the following in your SkyMiles profile “My Wallet” that is valid now or has expired since March 1, 2020, we are extending the expiration dates to give you additional time to enjoy your benefits: SkyMiles Members: If you have one of the following in your SkyMiles profile “My Wallet” that is valid now or has expired since March 1, 2020, we are extending the expiration dates to give you additional time to enjoy your benefits: The updates will happen automatically over the coming weeks, with no action needed from customers, Delta said. “We are continuously monitoring how coronavirus impacts travel and will make additional adjustments to support our customers’ needs as the pandemic evolves,” said Dube. Read more here. U.S. cases soar past 337,000, including more than 9,600 deaths Update 12:43 a.m. EDT April 6: The number of novel coronavirus cases in the United States soared past 337,000 across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands early Monday. According to researchers at Johns Hopkins University, there are at least 337,620 confirmed U.S. cases of the virus, which have resulted in at least 9,643 deaths. Worldwide, there are 1,274,923 confirmed cases and 69,479 deaths from the virus. U.S. cases outnumber those in any other nation, including the 131,646 reported in Spain and the 128,948 confirmed in Italy. Of the confirmed deaths in the U.S., 4,159 have occurred in New York, 917 in New Jersey, 617 in Michigan and 477 in Louisiana. In terms of diagnosed cases, New York remains the hardest-hit with at least 123,160 confirmed cases, followed by New Jersey with 37,505, Michigan with 15,718 and California with 15,154. Five other states have each confirmed at least 10,000 novel coronavirus cases, including: • Louisiana: 13,010, including 477 deaths • Massachusetts: 12,500, including 231 deaths • Florida: 12,350, including 221 deaths • Pennsylvania: 11,589, including 151 deaths • Illinois: 11,259, including 274 deaths The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • It's some good news for your wallet amid the coronavirus pandemic. WOKV's Consumer Warrior Clark Howard says a number of auto insurance companies are offering refunds to customers.  'With so far fewer vehicles on the road, the accident rates have collapsed. So, auto insurers are voluntarily, in some cases before being ordered by state regulators, to refund a portion of people's auto insurance premiums,' Howard explains.  Out of the big auto insurance companies, Howard says Allstate was among the first to make a refund announcement. He says Allstate is giving people 15% of the premium dollars collected for April and May.  'Others are going to come up with their own formulas. But, you're going to see money show up a number of different ways. [It] could be direct deposit back into your account, could be a check back to you, could be a credit toward future premiums,' says Howard.  He says this is a smart move.  'Auto insurers are doing a really smart thing now, being there to help while their insureds really need it, and it's going to give people a positive feeling toward their auto insurers,' Howard says.  Get more consumer news and advice from Clark Howard in his latest on-demand podcasts by clicking HERE.
  • Volunteers at a local church rolled up their sleeves to help medical workers fighting the coronavirus pandemic Monday.  Rob Soberay cooks meals at Lakewood United Methodist Church at least once a week.  COVID-19 put a stop to the community meals at the church.  “It was actually a difficult thing because of my love and passion for food,” Soberay said.  Instead, he dished out and delivered soup for the “Souper-heroes” working in the emergency room at Baptist Medical Center South.  “I think it’s one of life’s simple pleasures, to be able to cook for someone and make them enjoy that mean that you prepared for them,” Soberay said.  The church’s volunteers are bagging up all the elements to make a full meal for first responders including fruit and cookies baked by a local cancer survivor.  “We’re standing with them, not just here at Lakewood, but all of use are standing with them. We’re grateful for all they do for us,” pastor Don Thompson told Action News Jax.  “It’s just a small way for us here at Lakewood to be able to pay that back,” Soberay said.
  • There is new debate over whether now is the time to ask voters to pay more to help schools. Action News Jax has been telling you for months that Duval County Public Schools wants more than a billion dollars to fix its aging schools.  The City of Jacksonville subcommittee on Public Health and Safety met virtually on Monday morning and most of the discussion centered around the half-cent sales tax and whether to add it to the November ballot.  Council member Rory Diamond asked the committee to consider putting a hold on the bill, calling it a bold and expensive plan.  “That’s why I’ll be voting no. I would recommend school board should reduce their plan, significantly scaling down given the economic environment,” Diamond said.   Action News Jax has been following this story for months, even showing you leaks inside Duval County schools and exposed wires where students are supposed to be able to learn.  Diamond told the council he was worried this decision could lead to more unemployment in the city and a spike in crime.  Most of the other council members jumped in saying they support the half-cent sales tax.  Matt Carlucci, the vice chair, told the council he believes in the end the half-cent sale tax is going to help the economy.  “This is going to do a lot of things, including create a lot of jobs. If they people don’t want it, they’ll let us know -- but this (is) no time to time to scale back on a school system that has so many needs,” Carlucci said.  Council member Joyce Morgan told everyone in the meeting that we don't know what the new normal will look like after we get through this pandemic and that now is the time to move forward for schools in Jacksonville.  In the end they voted 6-1 to move forward with putting the tax to pay for fixing schools on the November ballot.
  • From the chalkboard to the computer screen. The NFL draft has come full circle. What began in 1936 with team officials sitting in a hotel, selecting names written on a blackboard, will now enter the virtual world. In a memo sent to NFL teams Monday, Commissioner Roger Goodell said this year’s draft, scheduled for April 23-25, will be held in a virtual format, the NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported in a tweet. Because team facilities have closed and the NFL canceled its plans to hold the draft in Las Vegas, its newest market, Goodell decided that teams can work the draft from their homes, The New York Times reported. That gives fantasy football geeks the chance to follow the draft online even more closely, instead of congregating in the auditoriums of venues where the draft has been held in previous years. The draft will still be televised, Goodell said. The NFL Network, ESPN and ABC will air the draft live. “Everyone recognizes that public health conditions are highly uncertain and there is no assurance that we can select a different date and be confident that conditions will be significantly more favorable than they are today,” Goodell wrote in the memo. 'I also believe that the draft can serve a very positive purpose for our clubs, our fans, and the country at large, and many of you have agreed. “Because of the unique circumstances in our country today, the 2020 draft will obviously need to be conducted in a different way. Already, we have canceled all public events, we will not be bringing prospects and their families to the draft, and the draft itself will be conducted and televised in a way that reflects current conditions.” The Cincinnati Bengals have the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NFL draft after finishing 2-14 during the 2019 season.

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