Jacksonville, FL - The head of an organization touted by Congresswoman Corrine Brown as a charity has now pled guilty to a federal charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
The plea agreement says Carla Wiley and two others who are unnamed- but one of who is a public official- conspired over about four years to collect donations for “One Door for Education”, saying the money would be used for scholarships but instead using it for personal expenses. In fact, in the history of the organization, court records say only one $1,000 scholarship was given out, despite about $800,000 being deposited in to the organization’s bank account.
While the public official is not named, it aligns with Brown. For one, the plea agreement says the public official is pictured three times on the organization’s homepage. You can see in the screenshot to the left that Brown is pictured three times. The unnamed public official is also tied to several events which Brown was affiliated with.
Brown was recently issued a federal subpoena, but until now she has declined to give details about the nature of the subpoena.
Wiley has agreed, as part of her plea, to cooperate with the US Attorney’s Office as they build their case and to testify as needed against others involved.
The plea says money from One Door was used to put on many events- sometimes for tens of thousands of dollars. The money was further used for travel, vehicles, catering, entertainment, and other personal expenses which investigators say had no impact on the organization.
“The vast majority of funds deposited into the One Door bank account have been used for the personal or professional benefit of Person A, Person B, Wiley, and others,” says the plea agreement.
A July 2013 golf tournament at TPC Sawgrass claimed One Door was sponsoring the tournament to benefit a scholarship fund and other non-profits. Person A- the unidentified public official- solicited donations as part of that tournament, claiming the foundation was a non-profit organization. The plea says tens of thousands of dollars from One Door went in to the tournament, but no money was actually raised for non-profits.
One Door funds were also allegedly poured in to receptions in Washington DC in 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015 that were held during a conference for an unrelated non-profit. The court records further say $10,000 in One Door funds were used for expenses at a fundraiser in a Washington DC music concert luxury box. In September 2014, Person A hosted a fundraiser in a luxury box at an NFL football game in DC, allegedly tapping some $30,000 in One Door money.
Not only do investigators say One Door was never properly registered as a charity, but there is a period of time it wasn’t officially a corporation, but was still operating and collecting donations.
The State Corporation Commission in Virginia incorporated One Door in May 2011 and they obtained a Tax Identification Number from the IRS. One Door’s corporate status was terminated in September 2012 because of failing to pay an annual registration fee and it was reinstated in June 2014 when the reinstatement fees were paid. At no time, according to the court records, was One Door a tax-exempt organization or registered to solicit charitable contributions, and the donations never qualified as charitable contributions.
The plea agreement claims the money- totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars- was solicited as donations for charity, without ever informing the donors that the money would instead be used for personal expenses. Major corporations, private philanthropies, and entities and individuals out of Jacksonville are among the donors cited in the plea agreement.
“One Door for Education” claims online to be established in honor of Wiley’s mother, Amy Anderson, a retired school teacher.
“… believed that it was opportunity and love of the field that creates good teachers- not just good grades. The scholarship foundation creates such an opportunity for those students that have the desire, the potential and may not see it until the “Door of Opportunity” opens,” the website says.
GALLERY: One Door for Education website
It further claims in its mission statement to do a variety of work in the community. On the same page as the mission statement, “Charities and Organizations Supported” are highlighted, including “Congresswoman Corrine Brown’s Annual Veteran’s Reception”. The “Services” page of the website specifically says the organization provides scholarships, financial assistance to families, volunteerism and financial support for the YMCA, and financial and academic support for students in need.
Wiley faces a maximum sentence of 20 years imprisonment, three years of supervised release, and a $250,000 fine. She has been released on her own recognizance at this time.
A request for comment issued to Brown’s office hasn’t been returned at this time.