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    Former Northeast Florida Democratic Congresswoman Corrine Brown has surrendered to start her five year prison sentence. Brown was found guilty last year of 18 of 22 federal fraud-related charges, and she was denied her efforts to stay out of prison on bond while appealing those convictions and sentence. She turned herself in just ahead of a noon deadline today at Federal Corrections Institution Coleman’s minimum security satellite camp in Sumterville. While we first received confirmation of her surrender from a bishop who was with Brown and spoke after to our partner Action News Jax, WOKV has since confirmed with the Bureau of Prisons as well. A federal judge agreed to honor Brown’s request to recommend to the Bureau of Prisons that she serve her time in a facility close to Northeast Florida. The Bureau of Prisons website says FCI Coleman’s satellite camp has 391 inmates. It’s part of a larger complex, which includes two high security penitentiaries and a low security federal correctional institution, in addition to the medium security correctional institution that’s adjacent to the satellite camp.  The Admissions and Orientation Handbook says there are five counts on weekdays at the satellite camp, during which inmates are required to be in their room, and inmates and their property can be searched for contraband at any time. For visitation, inmates can have up to 30 people on their approved list- 20 family members and 10 friends and associates. Visitors are subject to a dress code and other requirements. Telephone calls by the inmate are subject to monitoring and recording, except for legal calls. Mail is allowed, and the facility is part of an electronic mail pilot as well, but inmates must apply for access to that. There are television rooms, and personal radios are allowed, but must be played with headphones and at a volume that doesn’t disturb others. There are also table games in the activities/recreation room, including cards, checkers, dominoes, billiards, and shuffleboard. “Quiet time”- which also includes lights going out- begins at 10:30PM, and the Handbook says excessive noise after that is not tolerated. Inmates can apply to be a part of the “Hobby Craft Program”, with any completed crafts being mailed out of the institution. There are also leagues for sports at varying competitive levels, including basketball, soccer, softball, and volleyball. The facility includes areas for worship services, prayer, study, and a religious library. There are full-time Chaplains available, and both personal counseling and religious services take place. Every inmate there is assigned a job in the prison complex once they complete orientation and are medically cleared. Inmates can establish a savings account, but money can’t be withdrawn from that while the inmate is in prison, except for in emergencies. “Performance pay” and “meritorius good time” are available for inmates who have exceptional work performance, according to the Handbook. Inmates are issued green shirts and pants to wear at most times. Basic hygiene items are issued by the facility, and more can be purchased at the commissary. Inmates can spend up to $275 per month at the Commissary, if they have the funds available in their inmate account. Food is served cafeteria style, and inmates are encouraged to complete their meal within twenty minutes, because of space and time limitations. FULL COVERAGE: The case against former Congresswoman Corrine Brown Brown, her former Chief of Staff Ronnie Simmons, and the President of the sham charity they funneled money through Carla Wiley, were all involved in scheme that solicited hundreds of thousand of dollars from donors who believed they were giving to education, scholarship, and similar purposes- but instead, the money was used for personal expenses and lavish events. Brown was also found guilty of over-reporting charitable donations and under-reporting income on tax and financial disclosure forms. She continues to say she’s innocent, claiming she mismanaged her office and finances. Brown’s ongoing appeal is based largely on the dismissal of a juror during deliberations. That juror said at the outset of deliberations that the “Holy Spirit” told him Brown was not guilty. The judge ultimately ruled that while praying for guidance is within the right of a juror, receiving instruction from an outside force was not. The judge further said that while it appeared the juror was trying to participate in deliberations, the fact that he made this statement in the beginning showed he was not following court instruction to withhold final judgement until full deliberations took place. Simmons has already surrendered for his four year prison sentence that is being served in Maryland. Wiley also surrendered Monday, but she is serving her one year nine month sentence at Federal Prison Camp Alderson in West Virginia, which is minimum security. Both of them pleaded guilty ahead of Brown’s trial and cooperated with the government’s case, including testifying against Brown. Our partner Action News Jax reports Brown spent the beginning of Sunday at Bethel Baptist Church, where she is a member. The pastor reportedly held a prayer for Brown, and church members say they’re praying for her as well. WOKV will have continuing coverage through Monday. Action News Jax is in Sumterville, and you can get updates on CBS 47 and Fox 30 throughout the day.  Comment on our Facebook post with your reaction to her prison sentence:
  • The request had already been denied by the District Court in Jacksonville, but now the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has rejected former Congresswoman Corrine Brown’s motion to remain out of prison pending her appeal. Brown must surrender to the Bureau of Prisons to start serving her five year sentence next Monday, January 29th. FULL COVERAGE: The trial of former Congresswoman Corrine Brown Brown was convicted on 18 of 22 fraud-related charges for her role in soliciting hundreds of thousands of dollars to a sham charity and using the money on personal expenses instead. The convictions also include that Brown under-reported income and over-reported charitable donations on tax filings and financial disclosure forms. Two other people pleaded guilty in the case- the President of the sham charity, Carla Wiley, and Brown’s former Chief of Staff, Ronnie Simmons. Simmons surrendered earlier this month to serve his four year prison sentence, while Wiley must turn herself in Monday as well, to serve a sentence of one year and nine months. Through this process, Brown has maintained she is innocent, saying she mismanaged her office and finances but never knowingly participated in the fraud. She is appealing her convictions and sentence, saying a juror was improperly dismissed during deliberations. The District Court has already denied her motions for a new trial and judgement of acquittal. Brown asked the Court to allow her to continue to remain out of prison on bond, pending the appeal. After the District Court rejected that, Brown’s defense formally filed in front of the appellate court last month. The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals today denied her request as well. Brown’s attorney had filed an additional motion in District Court today requesting a 30 day extension for Brown to surrender. That has been denied by District Judge Timothy Corrigan as well, with his order saying Brown should direct that request to the 11th Circuit instead.
  • Former Northeast Florida Democratic Congresswoman Corrine Brown’s ex-Chief of Staff Ronnie Simmons has surrendered to serve his federal prison sentence. The Bureau of Prisons confirms to WOKV that Simmons went in to BOP custody at Federal Correctional Institution Cumberland’s satellite camp today, which was his scheduled surrender date. The BOP website describes this facility as a minimum security satellite camp adjacent to FCI Cumberland, which is medium security. The facility is in Maryland, which is where Simmons lives. The BOP confirms Simmons is assigned to the satellite camp, but per policy, they will not discuss if Simmons faces any future transfer to a different facility. FULL COVERAGE: The case against former Congresswoman Corrine Brown Brown, Simmons, and the President of “One Door For Education” Carla Wiley were all involved in a federal fraud case. Simmons and Wiley both pleaded guilty and testified against Brown, who was ultimately convicted on 18 of 22 federal charges. The trio solicited hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations to “One Door”, but used the money instead on personal expenses and lavish events, according to the evidence and testimony laid out at trial. In addition to pleading guilty to a conspiracy charge in connection to the “One Door” scheme, Simmons also pleaded guilty to theft of government funds. He admits to getting his sister a ghost job with the House of Representatives, where she collected a salary- from which Simmons took money- while doing little to no work in return. Simmons was sentenced to four years, which is actually more than what the guidelines in the case called for. Wiley was sentenced to one year and nine months, and Brown was sentenced to five years. Both Brown and Wiley have been told to voluntarily surrender later this month. All three had been hoping to avoid prison outright, and prosecutors had recommended some leniency for Wiley and Simmons because of their cooperation in the case. Brown continues to maintain her innocence, saying she put too much trust in Simmons and mismanaged her personal finances and her office. She is appealing her sentence and convictions. Brown previously motioned for a new trial or judgement of acquittal, but was denied by the US District Judge who oversaw the trial and sentencing.
  • A US District Judge has ordered former Northeast Florida Congresswoman Corrine Brown’s Chief of Staff now serve home confinement ahead of surrendering himself for his four year prison sentence. Ronnie Simmons had been allowed to remain out of prison with certain conditions ahead of his voluntary surrender date. A newly filed court order says Simmons is now facing a new District Court case in Anne Arundel County, MD, though, so a federal judge in Florida is modifying his conditions of release as a result.  FULL COVERAGE: The trial of former Congresswoman Corrine Brown Simmons is no longer permitted to travel, under these new modified conditions. He has also now been ordered to a home confinement program that includes electronic monitoring or GPS. Under home confinement, Simmons will be required to be in his home at all times except attorney visits, medical appointments, religious services, court appearances, and court ordered obligations. Pretrial Services must approve all of those trips out of his home. Anne Arundel District Court records show Simmons faces a “peace order” case. There will be a hearing on that Wednesday in Maryland. The Florida court order says Simmons will report to begin serving his prison sentence on January 8th. Simmons, Brown, and a third co-defendant Carla Wiley all funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars through Wiley’s sham charity “One Door For Education” and used the money on themselves instead. Simmons and Wiley both pleaded guilty ahead of trial, while Brown was convicted on 18 of 22 fraud-related counts, although she still maintains her innocence. Simmons was sentenced to four years in prison, which is actually more than what guidelines had called for after adopting the prosecution’s recommendation of leniency because of his cooperation with their case. Wiley was sentenced to one year and nine months, and Brown was sentenced to five years- both of them were told to report to the Bureau of Prisons January 29th. In addition to appealing her convictions and sentence, Brown is appealing the District Judge’s ruling to not allow her to stay out on bond pending her appeal.
  • A federal judge has denied former Northeast Florida Democratic Congresswoman Corrine Brown’s motion to stay out of prison pending her appeal. The new court order shows Brown must report to the institution designated by the Bureau of Prisons on January 29th by noon to serve her five year sentence. FULL COVERAGE: The trial of former Congresswoman Corrine Brown Brown was convicted on 18 fraud-related charges for funneling hundreds of thousands of dollars to a sham charity and using the money on personal expenses and lavish events instead. She was also found guilty of overreporting charitable donations and underreporting income on financial disclosure and tax filings. Her two co-defendants- her former Chief of Staff Ronnie Simmons and the President of the sham charity “One Door For Education” Carla Wiley- both pleaded guilty and testified against Brown at trial. Brown was sentenced to five years in prison, Simmons got four years, and Wiley got one year and nine months. All three had hoped to avoid any time behind bars. Brown has continued to maintain her innocence and is appealing her convictions and sentence. She recently filed a motion to stay out of prison pending that appeal, with her defense focused on what they call the “substantial” question of whether the judge improperly dismissed a juror during deliberations. According to the court transcript from the closed interview of that juror, he said at the outset of deliberations that the “Holy Spirit” had told him Brown was not guilty. Because of that, the judge believed that- while the juror intended to follow the court’s instructions- he was not fully and openly participating in the deliberations process. “While the issue of whether to replace a deliberating juror comes up relatively infrequently, when it does, there is Eleventh Circuit precedent that guides the Court in its decision-making. The Court followed that precedent,” says the order from US District Judge Timothy Corrigan. Brown already motioned for a new trial and acquittal, largely on these grounds, but was denied. The government disputed that issue was “substantial” as required by the statute, and therefore said Brown’s motion had no grounds. The judge has now ruled that, while it’s customary for a first-time nonviolent white collar offender like Brown to be allowed to voluntarily surrender for her sentence, it is not customary that she be allowed to remain free pending appeal. The court order further says the juror dismissal is not a “substantial” question which would warrant her release pending appeal. “Ms. Brown has been accorded all the consideration she is due, she has not met the standard to remain on release pending appeal, and it is in the interest of justice that she begin serving her sentence,” the order says. The order further says Brown could petition the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals on this issue. If she chooses to do so, that motion must be filed by December 29th. 
  • Former Northeast Florida Democratic Congresswoman Corrine Brown wants to remain out of prison while she appeals her 18 fraud-related convictions and five year prison sentence, but now, prosecutors are making it clear they’re opposed to that. During Brown’s sentencing pronouncement, the government did not object to her being allowed to voluntarily surrender on a date to be determined by the Bureau of Prisons, no sooner than early next month. Last week, Brown formally filed a notice she would appeal to the 11th Circuit US Court of Appeals as well as a motion to remain on bond while that appeal moves forward.  In a Sunday court filing, prosecutors call Brown’s motion for release on bond pending appeal “without merit” and ask the judge to deny that request. The government says the only issue raised by Brown is the dismissal of a juror during deliberations, and that issue in itself is not one that justifies her release pending appeal.  FULL COVERAGE: Former Congresswoman Corrine Brown convicted, sentenced in fraud case After jury deliberations were underway, a juror contacted court personnel to express concerns about another juror, number 13. Juror 13 ultimately confirmed in closed session questioning by the judge that he said at the outset of deliberations that the “Holy Spirit” had told him Brown was not guilty. While he appeared to still be taking part in deliberations, the judge ultimately determined that he was violating the court’s instruction to not make a determination on guilt or innocence until the jury had vetted all of the evidence and conducted deliberations. The judge narrowly worded the ruling, saying that while it’s permissible for jurors to pray for guidance, this juror saying he had received a specific determination of innocence crossed a line, because it meant that juror was not basing his decision solely on the evidence and law.  An alternate juror was seated, and that panel convicted Brown on 18 charges, while acquitting her on four, about a day and a half later.  The government’s response says a trial court is within its right to remove a juror who does not follow the court’s instructions, and this does not- therefore- present a “substantial” question of law, which is what the defense is calling it as grounds for Brown to be allowed to remain out of prison. The response says jurors were questioned during the selection process about whether they had any personal views that would prevent them from rendering a fair and impartial verdict, and none of those impaneled said they did.  Brown has previously moved for a new trial and judgement of acquittal, in part because of the juror being removed from deliberations. Both of those motions were denied.  Prosecutors are not disputing that Brown is not likely to flee and does not pose a danger to the community. They’re specifically disputing Brown’s claim that the juror dismissal issue raises “a substantial question of law or fact”, which is required under the law in order to allow for release pending appeal. The government says a “substantial question” is one that could likely be overturned at an appellate level.  “It would be extraordinary for an appellate court to review trial transcripts and reverse the factual findings of this Court, which had the first-hand opportunity to question Juror No. 13, observe his demeanor, and assess his ability to discharge his duties,” the government’s filing says.  Prosecutors say the Court was within its authority and used the proper legal standard in its decision to remove the juror.  Through this process, Brown has maintained her innocence. Even during her sentencing hearing, she apologized to supporters for putting them through this and asked the judge for “compassion and mercy”, but maintained that her only fault was putting trust in the wrong people. The judge cited her lack of taking accountability as one of the factors he considered in sentencing Brown to five years.  Brown, her former Chief of Staff Ronnie Simmons, and the President of a sham charity called “One Door For Education” Carla Wiley, solicited hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations to One Door, but used the money for personal expenses and lavish events instead. Wiley was the first to plead guilty and help the government build its case- ultimately leading to the indictments of Brown and Simmons. Simmons pleaded guilty ahead of trial, and both he and Wiley testified against Brown.  Wiley was sentenced to one year and nine months in prison, and Simmons was sentenced to four years. Both were also allowed to voluntarily surrender at a date to be determined and have had travel restricted until then. The judge has agreed to Wiley’s request to recommend she serve her time in a facility near family in Virginia. Wiley, Simmons, and Brown had all hoped to avoid prison outright. There is no indication in the court docket when the judge will rule on Brown’s motion.
  • Following through on intent declared during her sentencing, former Northeast Florida Democratic Congresswoman Corrine Brown has filed a notice to appeal. The notice filed in federal court Monday declares Brown will appeal to the 11th Circuit US Court of Appeals, dealing with the district court’s judgement, sentence, and all pretrial rulings in this case.  FULL COVERAGE: The case around former Congresswoman Corrine Brown Brown is also seeking to remain out on bond while this appeal is pending. She was recently sentenced to five years in prison, connected to her 18 fraud-related convictions, but was allowed to voluntarily surrender for that sentence at a date to be determined by the Bureau of Prisons, but no sooner than January 8.  The motion for release on bond pending appeal says Brown has not had any violations through the time she has been under pretrial services supervision. The motion says the Court has already determined Brown is not likely to flee and does not pose a danger to the community.  Brown’s appeal will focus on the dismissal of a juror during deliberations, according to the motion. Her defense says this is a question that could be decided in her favor, and therefore the court needs to decide if this substantial question could ultimately result in a new trial or sentence.  The judge already denied Brown’s motion for a new trial, which also raised the issue of the dismissed juror. While deliberations were underway, a juror contacted the court to express concerns about another juror and statements he had made. That juror was ultimately questioned by the court and said he had been told by the “Holy Spirit” that Brown was not guilty. While he said he believed he was participating in deliberations with the other jurors, the court noted that his comment was made at the outset of deliberations, and he was therefore not following court instructions to avoid reaching a determination until all the evidence and testimony had been vetted by the jury. That juror was replaced with one of the alternates, and the jury then unanimously convicted Brown on 18 charges and acquitted on four.  The convictions relate to a scheme where Brown, her former Chief of Staff Ronnie Simmons, and the President of the sham charity “One Door For Education” Carla Wiley raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for One Door from donors who thought their money was going to charitable purposes, when in fact, the trio was using it for personal expenses instead. Brown was also found guilty of lying on her financial disclosure forms and tax returns by overreporting charitable contributions and underreporting income. She has maintained her innocence,  claiming she mismanaged her office and her finances, but didn’t intentionally engage in criminal activity. Both Simmons and Wiley pleaded guilty in connection to this scheme and testified against Brown during her trial. Simmons was sentenced to four years in prison and Wiley to one year and nine months- both were also allowed to voluntarily surrender. The government had recommended leniency as a result of their cooperation. The defense motion says they have contacted prosecutors, who have indicated they object to Brown being allowed to remain out on bond pending this appeal.
  • The three people involved in a fraud scheme that involved a sham education charity sat within feet of each other in front of a federal judge, but didn’t exchange any words or even looks as the federal judge sentenced each to time in prison. Former Northeast Florida Democratic Congresswoman Corrine Brown will serve five years, after  being convicted on 18 charges connected to the fraud, which involved soliciting hundreds of thousands of dollars to a sham charity organization and using the money for personal expenses and lavish events instead.  Her two co-defendants both pleaded guilty and testified against Brown. Her former Chief of Staff Ronnie Simmons has been sentenced to four years, and the President of “One Door For Education”- the organization they funneled money through- Carla Wiley, will serve one year and nine months. All three had been hoping to avoid any time in prison outright. The judge is allowing the co-defendants to voluntarily surrender for their prison term at a date to be determined by the Bureau of Prisons, but no earlier than January 8th. Until then, the travel of Simmons and Wiley is restricted to Virginia, Maryland, and Washington DC, and Brown is restricted to the Middle District of Florida, unless they get approval from pre-trial officers. They will also surrender their passports and will report to pre-trial services. The government did not object to any of these terms. All three additionall will face supervised release after their prison terms, as well as forfeiture and restitution totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars- which the Judge ordered be paid in $250 per month installments upon release from prison. FULL COVERAGE:  The federal fraud case of former Congresswoman Corrine Brown WOKV has been following this case since early last year, when Wiley pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and agreed to cooperated with the government as they continued to build their case. In July, Brown and Simmons were indicted- Brown on 22 charges and Simmons on 19.  Earlier this year, Simmons pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and theft of government funds, and also agreed to cooperate with the prosecution. Brown then faced trial in May, and was convicted on 18 charges, including conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, aiding and abetting mail fraud, aiding and abetting wire fraud, scheme to conceal material facts, corrupt endeavor to obstruct and impede the due administration of internal revenue law, and filing false tax returns. Wiley founded One Door with good intentions, but it was essentially dormant until Simmons- her boyfriend at the time- took control. Judge Timothy Corrigan says one of the victims in this case is One Door itself, because financial records show more than $800,000 moved through the organization, but it didn’t go to the charitable purpose donors expected. “Just think of the good that could have been done with that money,” says Corrigan, adding that the defendants “systematically looted” the funds. Wiley’s theft came through online transfers from One Door’s bank account, which were conducted separately from the scheme involving Brown and Simmons. Corrigan says there  were no indications Wiley would have stopped had she not been caught, and she was also aware of the theft by Brown and Simmons and did nothing to stop it. “A sentence of probation would not be sufficient to account for such audacious and long-term misconduct,” he says. Simmons would withdraw money from One Door’s account and deposit it in to Brown’s account or give her cash, according to the case that was presented. He would also sometimes give Brown blank, signed One Door checks, and took One Door money for his own use as well. Simmons and others testified that the transactions involving One Door’s account were performed at Brown’s direction, and prosecutors say Brown abused the public’s trust and duped donors. Corrigan, with his sentencing, agreed. “One Door For Education was operated as a criminal enterprise by Carla Wiley, Ronnie Simmons, and Corrine Brown,” Corrigan says. Simmons additionally admitted to getting his sister a salary from the House of Representatives, even though she did little to no actual work. Simmons further took some of the money that his sister was receiving through the ghost job. All these factors considered, the judge actually recommended Simmons for a sentence above what his advisory guidelines called for. Brown was separately found guilty of lying on her financial disclosure forms and tax returns by underreporting income she received from One Door and overreporting her donations to charity, including claiming donations to One Door. “Having routinely converted One Door money for her own personal use, Ms. Brown turned around and falsely state on her tax returns that she had actually donated money to One Door for which she claimed a substantial charitable deduction. Brazen barely describes it,” Corrigan says. Brown continues to maintain her innocence, saying she was duped by Simmons and mismanaged her office and personal finances but never intended to engage in criminal acts. During her sentencing hearing a few weeks ago, she asked for “mercy and compassion” from the Judge. Her defense asked the Judge to consider her history of public service, age, lack of criminal history, and other factors in his sentencing. But Corrigan found Brown and Simmons abused their positions and traded on Brown’s position and the trust people had in her, for their own financial benefit. “The public had a right to expect that Ms. Brown, as an elected member of Congress, and Mr. Simmons, her longtime Chief of Staff, would not abuse their positions of public trust and responsibility,” Corrigan says. Simmons and Wiley both accepted responsibility in front of the Judge and apologized for their actions. The government recommended leniency as a result of their substantial cooperation and other factors. While the judge noted that as significant, he did not think justice would be achieved with any of the defendants avoiding prison outright. He did also find it notable that Brown continued to not accept responsibility. “While Ms. Brown is of course free to maintain her innocence, because she stands before the Court at sentencing unrepentant, she cannot be accorded the same sentencing considerations as someone who accepts responsibility for her wrongful action, expresses remorse, and promises to make amends,” he says. Brown’s attorney says they plan to not only appeal, but ask that she remain out on bond pending that appeal. Simmons and Wiley both have the right to appeal their sentences, but neither have indicated if they will do that. Despite these ongoing legal problems, Brown has continued to draw in supporters. Corrigan says he has received “hundreds” of letters in support of Brown, and that he read every one in his consideration of her sentence.  When the courtroom doors opened Monday for the sentencing pronouncement, there were dozens of people waiting to get in, and the courtroom itself filled up within minutes. An overflow courtroom was also open, as it has been through the trial and many of the proceedings. The US Attorney’s Office declined to comment about today’s sentencing pronouncement. The FBI Jacksonville has issued a statement  Special Agent in Charge Charles P. Spencer. 'It is incredibly disappointing that an elected official, who took an oath year after year to serve others, would exploit the needs of children and abuse the charitable hearts of constituents to advance her own personal and political agendas, and deliver them with virtually nothing. I am proud of the exceptional work of the special agents, analysts and support personnel who spent countless hours following the money trail in this case. Their work is some of the most complex, tedious, and significant work we do for the American public. It is an exceptionally difficult task, but rooting out public corruption is a priority for which the FBI will continue to dedicate the resources necessary to investigate, because the impact on everyday people is real. We thank our law enforcement partners at the IRS-CI and U.S. Attorney’s Office for their efforts to hold Brown and her associates accountable for their inexcusable actions.” This is a developing story that will be updated through the day. Get frequent updates on 104.5FM/AM 690 and on Twitter.
  • For prosecutors, this is a case that makes a statement that public corruption will not stand. “Imprisonment in this case is unequivocally necessary,” says Assistant US Attorney A. Tysen Duva. But in the eyes of the defense, a longtime Congresswoman- Corrine Brown- needs to be credited for her decades of public service. “If you balance this offence with all of the good that she has done, it doesn’t just outweigh it, it substantially outweighs it,” says Brown’s attorney James Smith III. FULL COVERAGE: The federal fraud case of former Congresswoman Corrine Brown 16 character witnesses presented before US District Judge Timothy Corrigan during the sentencing hearing for the now-former Northeast Florida Democratic Representative. For some, Brown was the godmother to a child, to others she was a tireless public servant, to still others she was an inspiration. “Devoted, faithful, committed,” says Bishop Kelvin Cobaris, the President of the African American Council of Christian Clergy, in central Florida. “She means the absolute world to me,” says a longtime friend of Brown. “It was not just saving people’s homes, she was saving people’s lives,” says Neighborhood Assistance Cooperation of America founder and CEO Bruce Marks. Corrigan says he’s also received likely more than 100 letters about Brown’s case, 99% of which were in support of her and pleading for leniency in her sentencing, as the defense seeks probation. “The sentence that we are asking for is extraordinary, but that sentence is being asked for on behalf of someone who’s extraordinary and has lived an extraordinary life,” Smith says. But prosecutors have now confirmed they’re recommending Corrigan adopt what the advisory sentencing guidelines call for in this case- up to nine years in prison. If the Court seeks to give Brown a lighter sentence, the government wants her to serve no less than five years. “This was a significant criminal case,” Duva says. Duva says Brown obstructed justice during the trial proceedings through several statements she made while testifying in her own defense.  He says she improperly shifted blame to others like her CPA, denied knowledge about the fraud scheme which prosecutors say she had, and gave explanations for cash payments that didn’t make sense. “Corrine Brown committed crimes on that witness stand. She lied for hours on end,” Duva says. Corrigan says this is something he plans to very carefully consider, after Smith raised an objection to classifying any of Brown’s testimony as obstruction of justice. “Just because a person testifies at trial and is convicted, doesn’t mean they committed perjury,” he says. Duva also read several statements Brown has made pre-indictment, post-indictment, and post-verdict, criticizing the justice system, implying she was being targeted for political or racial reasons, and suggesting the jury was tampered with. “Just totally ludicrous and it makes no sense,” Duva says. Smith asked Corrigan to understand that Brown grew up in a different time and under different circumstances, where racism exsited and it was never thought that an African American woman who did not come from an elite background could rise to Congress. He implored Corrigan not to sentence her based on those statements. “Sometimes, as a 71-year-old black woman, she’s reminded of the scars she’s gained by fighting for all of us,” Smith says. Smith also told the court he objects to much of the Pre-Sentence Report that was put together by Brown’s Probation Officer, because Brown still maintains her innocence and, as such, does not concur with the facts that are laid out. That objection was preserved for appeal. Brown did address the judge herself, chiefly thanking family and supporters for their continued support and prayers. “I am sorry that you have to be here today to see me in this situation. I have always tried to protect my name and reputation, I would never imagine that one day I would be in court to ask people to speak on my behalf. I have learned from this unfortunate turn of events that too many times I have trusted without verifying. In hindsight I wish that I had been more diligent in overseeing my personal and professional life,” she says. She told the judge she has worked to help people, and public service has been an honor and priviledge. “I humbly ask for mercy and compassion,” Brown says. The government says the real tragedy and victim in this case is all the money that could have been used for charitable purposes, if Brown followed through on her promises to donors. “Throughout, it was all about raising scholarship money for kids, and that never happened,” Duva says. Brown was convicted in May on 18 federal charges for her role in soliciting donations to a sham charity and using the money instead on personal expenses. The charges also include that Brown lied on tax returns and financial disclosure forms by underreporting her income and overreporting charitable contributions. Corrigan heard arguments today, but will not issue the sentence order for Brown or her two co-defendants until December 4th.  “Judges are humans too, and all I can do is the best I can do, and I will do the best I can do,” he says. Brown’s former Chief of Staff Ronnie Simmons and the President of the sham charity money was funneled through Carla Wiley both pleaded guilty and testified against Brown at her trial. They had their sentencing hearing Wednesday, which established advisory guidelines that could have Wiley serve between one year nine months and two years three months, with Simmons potentially serving between two years nine months and three years five months. Both expressed remorse during their statements to Corrigan. While Corrigan has the advisory sentencing guidelines for all three defendants, he will also weigh other factors, and has discretion to impose the sentences he sees as appropriate in each case. Smith is also disputing what the government has valued as loss associated with this case. Among his objections is that prosecutors claimed around $330,000 used on events was loss in this case, because the people who donated thought their money would benefit charitable purposes. The defense says the events did happen, so claiming the money is improper. Attorneys for Brown, Simmons, Wiley, and the government have been asked to try to work through their differences on loss and forfeiture sums, and must submit any outstanding objections by next week.

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  • As the investigation of a quadruple shooting in Northwest Jacksonville continues, police now say the situation escalated from a planned fight. JSO responded to Elizabeth Powell Park on Redpoll Avenue Thursday night following reports of a shooting. Police initially said several people were gathered at the basketball courts when a fight broke out and several people on scene shot at each other. In all, a 14-year-old and a 24-year-old were killed, and two other people suffered non-life threatening injuries. Investigators now say the fight was actually planned in advance between two female acquaintances who were in an ongoing dispute. JSO says people learned about the fight and gathered to watch, and several ultimately got involved. Some of those spectators then pulled guns and started shooting. In light of this, JSO says they do not believe the shooting was random. Police are asking for any information you have, including asking people who were at the park or watching the fight to come forward. If anyone has video of the fight or has seen posts on social media, they’re asking those people to let them know. You can contact JSO at 904-630-0500 or JSOCrimeTips@jaxsheriff.org. You can also submit an anonymous tip and be eligible for a possible $3,000 reward by calling Crime Stoppers at 1-866-845-TIPS.
  • A gunman opened fire at the Henry Pratt Company, a valve manufacturer in suburban Chicago on Friday, killing five people and wounding at least five police officers before he was fatally shot, police said. >> Read more trending news Officers arrived within four minutes of receiving reports of a shooting and were fired upon as soon as they entered the 29,000-square-foot manufacturing warehouse, Aurora, Police Chief Kristen Ziman said in a news conference. Update 6:45 p.m. EST Feb. 15: The chief of police says five people were killed and five officers were wounded in a shooting at a business in suburban Chicago. Aurora Police Chief, Kristen Ziman, identified the gunman as 45-year-old Gary Martin. Ziman says the gunman was also killed. The five police officers that were injured in the shooting are in stable condition according to the Chicago Sun-Times. Update 5:15 p.m. EST Feb. 15: A spokesman for the coroner’s office says at least one person is dead following a shooting at a business in suburban Chicago.  Kane County coroner’s office spokesman Chris Nelson says at least one person was killed in the attack Friday afternoon at the Henry Pratt Co. building in Aurora. Update 4:45 p.m. EST Feb. 15: A city spokesman told WGN that at least four police officers were injured.  Police have not said if anyone else has been injured. Update 4:15 p.m. EST Feb. 15: Initial reports indicate that the shooter has been apprehended, but the area is still on lockdown. Update 3:55 p.m. EST Feb. 15: A man who said he witnessed Friday’s shooting told WLS-TV that he recognized the person who opened fire at the Henry Pratt Company. The man told WLS-TV that the shooter was one of his co-workers. Update 3:50 p.m. EST Feb. 15: Police confirmed they are continue to respond Friday afternoon to an active shooting reported in Aurora. Update 3:45 p.m. EST Feb. 15: Citing preliminary reports from the scene, the Daily Herald reported several people were injured in the ongoing active shooter situation reported Friday afternoon in Aurora. Police did not immediately confirm the report. Update 3:40 p.m. EST Feb. 15: Authorities with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are responding to the reported shooting, officials said. Check back for updates to this developing story.
  • President Donald Trump declared a national emergency Friday to fund his promised wall on the U.S.-Mexico border after Congress passed a bipartisan border security bill that offered only a fraction of the $5.7 billion he had sought. >> Read more trending news  White House officials confirmed Friday afternoon that Trump also signed the spending compromise into law to avoid a partial government shutdown. Update 3:25 p.m. EST Feb. 15:A lawsuit filed Friday by an ethics watchdog group aims to make public documents that could determine whether the president has the legal authority to invoke emergency powers to fund his promised border wall. In a statement, officials with the nonpartisan Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington said the group requested documentation, including legal opinions from the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, to determine whether the president wrongfully used his emergency powers. “President Trump’s threatened declaration of a national emergency for these purposes raised some serious questions among the public and Congress that the president was considering actions of doubtful legality based on misstated facts and outright falsehoods to make an end-run round Congress’ constitutional authority to make laws and appropriate funds,” attorneys for CREW said in the lawsuit. >> Read the lawsuit filled by the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington  The group said it submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the Office of Legal Counsel last month and that it got a response on Feb. 12 that indicated authorities would not be able to expedite the request or respond to it within the 20-day statutory deadline. “Americans deserve to know the true basis for President Trump’s unprecedented decision to enact emergency powers to pay for a border wall,” CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder said in a statement. Officials with the American Civil Liberties Union said the group also plans to file suit. Update 2:30 p.m. EST Feb. 15: Trump has signed a bill passed by Congress to fund several federal departments until September 30, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed Friday afternoon to The Associated Press. Update 12:35 p.m. EST Feb. 15: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, accused Democrats of playing partisan politics in refusing to fund Trump’s border wall. “President Trump’s decision to announce emergency action is the predictable and understandable consequence of Democrats’ decision to put partisan obstruction ahead of the national interest,” McConnell said. Democrats have repeatedly voice opposition to the border wall, which critics say would not effectively address issues like drug trafficking and illegal immigration, which Trump purports such a wall would solve. Update 11:25 a.m. EST Feb. 15: In a joint statement, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, condemned what they called “the president’s unlawful declaration over a crisis that does not exist.” “This issue transcends partisan politics and goes to the core of the founders’ conception for America, which commands Congress to limit an overreaching executive. The president’s emergency declaration, if unchecked, would fundamentally alter the balance of powers, inconsistent with our founders’ vision,” the statement said. “We call upon our Republican colleagues to join us to defend the Constitution.” Update 11:10 a.m. EST Feb. 15: Trump said he’s expecting the administration to be sued after he signs a national emergency declaration to fund the building of wall on the southern border. “The order is signed and I'll sign the final papers as soon as I get into the Oval Office,” Trump said Friday while addressing reporters in the Rose Garden.  “I expect to be sued -- I shouldn’t be sued,” Trump said Friday while addressing reporters in the Rose Garden. “I think we’ll be very successful in court. I think it’s clear.” He said he expects the case will likely make it to the Supreme Court, the nation’s highest court. “It’ll go through a process and happily we’ll win, I think,” he said. Update 10:50 a.m. EST Feb. 15: “I’m going to sign a national emergency,” Trump said. “We’re talking about an invasion of our country with drugs, with human traffickers, with all types of criminals and gangs.”  >> National emergency likely to be blocked by courts, DOJ tells White House: reports Update 10:25 a.m. EST Feb. 15: Trump will declare a national emergency and use executive actions to funnel over $6 billion in funds from the Treasury Department and the Pentagon for his border wall, Cox Media Group’s Jamie Dupree reported. “With the declaration of a national emergency, the President will have access to roughly $8 billion worth of money that can be used to secure the southern border,” Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney told reporters in a call before the president’s announcement. >> From Cox Media Group's Jamie Dupree: White House: Trump using national emergency and executive actions for border wall Update 10 a.m. EST Feb. 15: Trump is expected on Friday morning to deliver remarks from the Rose Garden on the southern border after White House officials said he plans to declare a national emergency to fund his border wall. Update 10 p.m. EST Feb. 14: At 10 a.m. on Friday, President Donald Trump is expected to deliver remarks from the Rose Garden about the southern border. >> From Cox Media Group’s Jamie Dupree: Congress passes border deal as Trump readies emergency for border wall The White House announced earlier that Trump will declare a national emergency that would enable him to transfer funding from other accounts for additional miles of border fencing. Update 9 p.m. EST Feb. 14: The House easily approved border funding plan, as President Donald Trump prepared an emergency declaration to fund a border wall. The bill also closes a chapter by preventing a second government shutdown at midnight Friday and by providing $333 billion to finance several Cabinet agencies through September. Trump has indicated he’ll sign the measure though he is not happy with it, and for a few hours Thursday he was reportedly having second thoughts. Update 4:30 p.m. EST Feb. 14: The government funding bill that includes $1.375 billion for 55 miles of border wall, passed the Senate with a 83 - 16 vote. The bill will go to the House for a final vote Thursday evening. Update 4 p.m. EST Feb. 14: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says if President Donald Trump declares a national emergency at the border he’s making an “end run around Congress.” “The President is doing an end run around the Congress and the power of the purse,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who reserved the right to lead a legal challenge against any emergency declaration. Pelosi said that there is no crisis at the border with Mexico that requires a national emergency order. >> Trump's border wall: What is a national emergency? She did not say if House Democrats would legally challenge the president. But Pelosi said if Trump invokes an emergency declaration it should be met with “great unease and dismay” as an overreach of executive authority. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters Thursday afternoon that the White House is “very prepared” for a legal challenge following the declaration of a National Emergency. Update 3:15 p.m. EST Feb. 14: Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that President Donald Trump is going to sign a border deal and at the same time issue a national emergency declaration. The compromise will keep departments running through the fiscal year but without the $5.7 billion Trump wanted for the border wall with Mexico.  The House is also expected to vote on the bill later Thursday. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders sent a statement confirming that Trump intends to sign the bill and will issue “other executive action - including a national emergency.” An emergency declaration to shift funding from other federal priorities to the border is expected to face swift legal challenge. Update 12:40 p.m. EST Feb. 14: Trump said in a tweet Thursday that he and his team were reviewing the funding bill proposed by legislators. Congress is expected to vote Thursday on the bipartisan accord to prevent another partial federal shutdown ahead of Friday's deadline. Trump has not definitively said whether he’ll sign the bill if it passes the legislature. The bill would fund several departments, including Agriculture, Justice and State, until Sept. 30 but it includes only $1.4 billion to build new barriers on the border. Trump had asked Congress to provide $5.7 billion in funding. Update 9:55 a.m. EST Feb. 14: The more than 1,600-page compromise, made up of seven different funding bills, was unveiled early Thursday. It includes $1.4 billion to build new barriers on the border and over $1 billion to fund other border security measures. If passed, the bill would prevent a partial government shutdown like the 35-day closure that started after lawmakers failed to reach a compromise in December.  >> From Cox Media Group's Jamie Dupree: Five tidbits from the border security funding deal in Congress President Donald Trump has given mixed signals in recent days over whether he plans to sign the bill or not. He’s told reporters in recent days that a second government shutdown as federal workers continue to dig out from the last closure “would be a terrible thing.” However, Adam Kennedy, the deputy director of White House communications, told NPR that the president “doesn’t want his hands tied on border security.” 'I think the president is going to fully review the bill,' Kennedy said. 'I think he wants to review it before he signs it.' Original report: President Donald Trump is expected to sign the deal lawmakers have hammered out to avoid a second shutdown, CNN is reporting. >> From Cox Media Group’s Jamie Dupree: Trump hints at ‘national emergency’ to funnel money to border wall On Tuesday, Trump said he was “not happy” with the spending plan negotiators came up with Monday night, CNN reported. That deal includes $1.375 billion in funding for border barriers, but not a concrete wall, according to Cox Media Group Washington correspondent Jamie Dupree. “It’s not doing the trick,” Trump said, adding that he is “considering everything” when asked whether a national emergency declaration was on the table. He said that if there is another shutdown, it would be “the Democrats’ fault.” Trump also took to Twitter later Tuesday, claiming that the wall is already being built. >> See the tweet here The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • As President Donald Trump on Friday announced a pair of executive actions and declared a national emergency to funnel more money into border security, lawmakers in both parties in Congress were left in the dark on how the Pentagon would deal with the largest part of the President’s declaration, carving $3.6 billion out of military construction projects authorized and funded by the U.S. House and Senate. “I strongly believe securing our border should not be done at the expense of previously funded military construction projects,” said Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH), whose district is home to Wright Patterson Air Force Base, which received $116 million in 2019 for construction of a new building for the National Air and Space Intelligence Center. “We certainly cannot allow him to rob our military of $3.5 billion for critical construction projects that serve our troops, support our allies, and deter our adversaries,” said Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI). Congress approved $10.3 billion for military construction for Fiscal Year 2019, doling out money to dozens of domestic and overseas military facilities, projects which are often prized as bring-home-the-bacon items for Democrats and Republicans alike in Congress. The list of military construction projects in each year’s budget runs the gamut of military needs – from an F-35 maintenance hangar at Camp Pendleton in California, to a training facility at the Mayport Naval Base near Jacksonville, Florida, to a reserve training center at Fort Benning in Georgia, to a dry dock facility at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, and much more. In all, military construction money was approved last fall by lawmakers for defense installations in 38 different states, and at least 14 overseas locations, some of those U.S. possessions. You can read through the list of projects from the bill here. A quick look at the list of military facilities with 2019 funding shows that many of them are located in House districts held by Republican lawmakers – who could find money for their local military project in jeopardy, as the President tries to funnel more money to his signature border wall. Democrats from around the country were quick to issue statements asking that their home state military construction projects be spared from any cuts, and challenging their GOP colleagues to do the same. Trump’s “National Emergency” strips billlions of dollars from base housing construction. Martha will you join me in opposing this farce? Who is more important the military spouses or your obedience to the President? https://t.co/Z56pZ9VRYr — Ruben Gallego (@RubenGallego) February 15, 2019 The President's unconstitutional action threatens to take money away from construction at Nellis Air Force Base, and local national security activities that keep Nevada families safe. I will support the House’s actions to restore order and protect Nevadans. — Rep. Steven Horsford (@RepHorsford) February 15, 2019 Since Trump reportedly plans to take money from existing military construction projects for his #nationalemergency, this could steal millions in approved & necessary funding away from the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. #mepolitics My full statement on his authoritarian power grab pic.twitter.com/djQdIcHmub — Chellie Pingree (@chelliepingree) February 15, 2019 The Pentagon and the White House had no answers for reporters on Friday on which military construction projects would be put on hold, whether from the 2019 budget, or from money approved by Congress, but not yet spent from previous years. “We would be looking at lower priority military construction projects,” a senior administration official told reporters on a Friday conference call before the President’s announcement. That official – and another senior White House official on the call – both downplayed the amount of money being taken from military construction, with one saying the budget was ‘substantially’ more than the $3.6 billion being diverted by the President. But that’s not the case. “I sit on the committee that funds Military Construction,” said Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) tweeted on Friday. “Trump is taking $3.5 billion out of the $10 billion that’s in the account. That’s 35%.” Earlier this month, the Republican chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee specifically said his biggest concern about an emergency would be taking money out of military construction, a point Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) emphasized again this week. “As I heard in a hearing yesterday, military housing and all military installations are facing disrepair and poor conditions,” Inhofe said. “We cannot afford to allow them to be further impacted.”
  • Can President Donald Trump declare a national emergency in order to fund the wall?  >> Read more trending news Here is a look at the powers that come into play when a president declares a national emergency and just what the law allows him to do. Can he do that? The president, at his or her discretion, has the authority to declare a national emergency. Historically, that authority comes from Congress, which by 1973 had enacted more than 470 statutes pertaining to the president’s authority during a national emergency.  In 1976, Congress enacted the National Emergencies Act that limited the scope of response to declared states of emergency.The act: Revoked the powers that had been granted to the president under the four states of emergency that were still active in 1976. Prescribed procedures for invoking any powers in the future. Declared that states of emergency would automatically end one year after their declaration unless the president publishes a notice of renewal in the Federal Register within 90 days of the termination date. He or she must also officially notify Congress of the renewal. Required each house of Congress meet every six months to consider a vote to end the state of emergency. The incoming chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Adam Smith, D-Washington, agreed that Trump has the authority to declare an emergency and have the U.S. military build the wall. He said on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” that while Trump can do it, such an action would likely be challenged in court. >> National emergency likely to be blocked by courts, DOJ tells White House: reports “Unfortunately, the short answer is yes,” Smith said when asked if Trump has the authority to declare a national emergency and build the wall.“I think the president would be wide open to a court challenge saying, ‘Where is the emergency?’ You have to establish that in order to do this,” Smith continued. “But beyond that, this would be a terrible use of Department of Defense dollars.”What is considered a national emergency?What constitutes a national emergency is open to interpretation, but generally, it is seen as an event that threatens the security of the people of the United States. According to the Congressional Review Service, a 1934 Supreme Court majority opinion characterized an emergency in terms of “urgency and relative infrequency of occurrence as well as equivalence to a public calamity resulting from fire, flood, or like disaster not reasonably subject to anticipation.”  What powers does a president have when a national emergency is declared?Through federal law, when an emergency is declared, a variety of powers are available to the president to use. Some of those powers require very little qualification from the president for their use. The Brennan Center for Justice lists 136 special provisions that become available to a president when he declares a national emergency. A CRS report states, 'Under the powers delegated by such statutes, the president may seize property, organize and control the means of production, seize commodities, assign military forces abroad, institute martial law, seize and control all transportation and communication, regulate the operation of private enterprise, restrict travel, and, in a variety of ways, control the lives of United States citizens.” However, under the National Emergencies Act, the president must name the specific emergency power he is invoking. How can he get funds for a wall by declaring a national emergency? Where does the money come from? According to U.S. law, a president can divert funds to a federal construction project during a declared national emergency. In the case of the border wall, the money could come from the budget for the Department of Defense under something called “un-obligated” money. Under federal law, un-obligated money in the Department of Defense's budget may be used by the military to fund construction projects during war or emergencies. Department of Defense spokesman Jamie Davis said in a statement that, “To date, there is no plan to build sections of the wall. However, Congress has provided options under Title 10 U.S. Code that could permit the Department of Defense to fund border barrier projects, such as in support of counter drug operations or national emergencies.” Can Congress get around it? Congress can end a president’s call of a national emergency with a joint resolution. A joint resolution is a legislative measure that requires the approval of both the House and the Senate. The resolution is submitted, just as a bill is, to the president for his or her signature, making it a law. 

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