Jacksonville, FL — The President of the sham charity used by former Congresswoman Corrine Brown to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars- which were used for personal expenses instead- is hoping to avoid jail time.
Carla Wiley created “One Door For Education” to honor her mother, although prosecutors say only two small scholarships were ever distributed, and the organization was not a registered non-profit for much of its existence. She pleaded guilty to stealing money from the organization through online bank transfers, and helped the government build their case against Brown- who was still in Congress at the time- and Brown’s Chief of Staff Ronnie Simmons.
Simmons ultimately pled guilty and testified against Brown at trial as well. Both Wiley and Simmons are currently scheduled for sentencing November 15th, while Brown will be in front of a judge on November 16th.
In a newly filed sentencing memo, Wiley’s defense argues the court should impose no time in jail.
The memo says Wiley started cooperating with the government soon after investigators made contact, and she has done whatever they have asked. The memo further says Wiley has "fully accepted responsibility" for what she did.
Wiley's defense further compares her conduct with that of Simmons and Brown, saying her offense was "less aggravated" and of a smaller scale than the other defendants in the case. As such, the defense argues Wiley's sentence should be much less.
Additionally, the defense says Wiley’s personal character should serve to mitigate her sentence. Several letters are included with the memo- including from an FBI Supervisory Special Agent and from the President of the Loudoun County Virginia Branch of the NAACP, who both describe themselves as longtime friends of Wiley- attesting to her dedication to her community and family. Her defense says she poses no risk of recidivism, and would be appropriately served through probation or a short period of home detention.
Wiley testified during Brown's trial that she essentially handed over control of One Door to Simmons, who she was dating at the time. She testified that she didn't really interact with Brown about the group and wasn't involved in fundraising. Instead, she says Simmons would forge her name on One Door checks and funnel money for himself and Brown, although she says she didn't initially realize that. Simultaneously- and without notifying Simmons- Wiley would transfer money from the One Door bank account online to her own account, to use for personal expenses.
While Simmons and Wiley had pleaded guilty, Brown was convicted by a jury on 18 of the 22 federal fraud charges she faced. In addition to being found guilty of soliciting the donations for her own personal use and lavish events, Brown was convicted of underreporting income and overreporting charitable contributions on her tax filings and financial disclosures. She has tried unsuccessfully to get a new trial and motion for acquittal, and was also rejected twice over requests to delay her sentencing hearing. While her Probation Officer's report- which includes a sentencing recommendation- is not a public record, Brown's defense says a "substantial" prison time is recommended. Brown's defense is hoping for no jail time.