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    One of the co-conspirators in a fraud scheme that involved then-Northeast Florida Democratic Congresswoman Corrine Brown, is getting out of federal custody this month. Her release comes about three months shy of the full term she was sentenced to serve. WOKV confirmed that Carla Wiley was actually released from Federal Prison Camp Alderson in West Virginia on June 5th. At that time, she was transferred to a Residential Reentry Center, or halfway house, according to the Bureau of Prisons. The BOP says these centers provide assistance to inmates who are nearing release, including employment counseling, job placement, financial management assistance, and more. The BOP confirms she will be released from federal custody on July 25th, although court records show her sentence calls for supervised release once she’s out. FULL COVERAGE: Former Congresswoman Corrine Brown’s fraud case Wiley surrendered January 29th, 2018, for her one year and nine month sentence, which would have put her release date at the end of October, had she served the full sentence. The US Attorney’s Office says this July release date reflects roughly 85% gain time. Wiley’s attorney, D. Gray Thomas, tells WOKV that a slightly shortened sentence like this will generally happen with an inmate that has not had disciplinary violations. With Wiley specifically, he says this sentence is consistent with one a compliant inmate would receive, and reflects that she poses no risk of disciplinary violations. Thomas declined to comment on what Wiley plans to do after her release. Wiley was the founder and leader of “One Door For Education”, a sham charity that brought in hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations, but that Wiley, Brown, and Brown’s Chief of Staff Ronnie Simmons used for events and their own expenses. Wiley was the first to plead, and then helped the US Attorney’s Office build their case against Brown and Simmons, who were jointly indicted. Simmons later pleaded guilty as well and cooperated in the case. Because of this cooperation, prosecutors recommended leniency in their sentencing, although District Judge Timothy Corrigan gave Simmons a term that’s longer than what the advisory guidelines called for. Brown went to trial, and was found guilty in May 2017 on 18 of 22 charges. Brown surrendered for her five year prison sentence on January 29th, 2018. She is serving her sentence at Federal Corrections Institution Coleman’s minimum security satellite camp in Sumterville. Her convictions represent both the fraud scheme and filing false tax returns and financial disclosures. Prosecutors had sought up to nine years in prison for Brown. Simmons surrendered January 8th, 2018 for his four year sentence at Federal Corrections Institution Cumberland’s minimum security satellite camp in Maryland. In addition to a fraud count, he had also pleaded to theft of government funds for getting his sister a “ghost” government job and taking some of the salary she collected. Brown continues to appeal her convictions and sentence, saying she mismanaged her finances and put too much trust in Simmons. Her appeal centers on whether it was proper to remove a juror from deliberations after they had begun. The US Attorney’s Office declined to comment on Wiley’s release.
  • 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.

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  • A Florida woman and her grown son were indicted Wednesday in the killings of her husband and sister that took place 25 years ago in New Jersey, according to authorities. Dolores Mejia Connors Morgan, 66, and Ted Connors, 47, both of Del Ray Beach, are each charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the 1994 slaying of Ana F. Mejia, 24, and the 1995 killing of 51-year-old Nicholas William Connors, Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni said in a news release. Both killings took place in the victims’ homes in Long Branch, a beachside city about an hour east of Trenton. A third person, Jose Carrero, 48, of Jackson Township, New Jersey, was also charged with murder in both homicides, Gramiccioni said. Carrero, who, like Morgan and Ted Connors, was arrested Jan. 10, pleaded guilty Friday to two counts of second-degree conspiracy to commit murder in a plea deal with prosecutors. Media reports at the time of the killings indicated that Mejia considered her sister and brother-in-law her parents. An obituary that ran in the Asbury Park Press under the name Ana Mejia-Jimenez listed them as her mother and father, and Ted Connors as her brother. Mejia was found dead Dec. 8, 1994, in the bedroom of the apartment she shared with her boyfriend and her two young children, Gramiccioni said. “Mejia was stabbed multiple times and had a white powdery substance rubbed on her face when she was found. Her children were found safe within the residence,” the prosecutor said in a news release. Investigators initially believed it was cocaine that had been smeared on Mejia’s face, including inside her nose. According to NJ.com, however, the white powder found around Mejia’s nose and mouth was determined to be baby formula. Mejia had been stabbed 23 times and news reports at the time indicated her body was mutilated. Raw HTML blockedit “Six months later, on May 14, 1995, Long Branch police officers were dispatched to the Van Dyke Place home of Nicholas Connors, 51,” the news release said. “There, authorities found Nicholas Connors on a sofa, deceased after multiple gunshot wounds to the head.” Morgan, then 42, was the person who found him dead, NJ.com said. Two of the couple’s children, ages 13 and 12, were home but slept through the shooting. “By habit, he would wait for her to come home before going to bed,” then-Monmouth County Prosecutor John Kaye told the Asbury Park Press in 1995. “She found him on the couch, and there was blood all about.” Gramiccioni said last week that Carrero admitted conspiring with Morgan and Ted Connors “to kill Mejia in retaliation for what they believed were her actions to tip off law enforcement officers about the illegal activities of her boyfriend.” An Asbury Park Press article published in 1994 indicated that Mejia was slain a week after her boyfriend was arrested on drug charges. Raw HTML blockedit NJ.com reported Carrero said in court that Morgan feared her sister, who was allegedly working as a confidential police informant, would also tip detectives off about her illegal activities. She determined Mejia had to die, he indicated. Carrero told the court that he met with Morgan, who said she would pay him to help with the killing, and Ted Connors in the kitchen of the Connors home in 1994 to plan the hit on Mejia. He said he and Ted Connors planned to go to a party together the night of the crime to establish an alibi, NJ.com reported. He said he and Ted Connors left the party and parked down the street from Mejia’s house so no one would see Connors’ vehicle, the news site reported. They went to the house and Mejia opened the door for him and her nephew before returning to her bedroom. Carrero said he covered Mejia’s face with a pillow while Ted Connors stabbed her because he “didn’t want to see her” as she died, NJ.com said. After the murder, the pair returned to the party to maintain their alibi, Carrero said. “Carrero also admitted to conspiring with Ted Connors and Connors’ mother, Delores Morgan (then known as Delores Connors) to kill Nicholas Connors. Nicholas Connors was the adopted father of Ted and then-husband of Delores,” Gramiccioni said last week. Nicholas Connors “was killed in a successful effort to collect on a life insurance policy,” Gramiccioni’s news release indicated. NJ.com reported that Carrero said in court that he, Morgan and Ted Connors again sat at the kitchen table of the family’s home to plot out the husband and father’s killing. He said Ted Connors obtained a gun and Morgan went to work that night so she would not be home when her husband was slain. Carrero said he and Ted Connors again parked down the street from the house before walking to a side door and slicing the screen to make it look like a break-in. When they went inside, Carrero said he could hear a television in the next room. He said he remained in the kitchen while Ted Connors went in and shot his father, the news site reported. When he heard a second shot, he fled and ran to the car, with Ted Connors a couple of steps behind him, NJ.com said. News reports at the time indicated investigators almost immediately suspected the killings of Mejia and Nicholas Connors were related. Carrero said he was never paid outright for the crimes but Morgan loaned him cash at one point and he didn’t pay it back. He also lived at the family’s house for a while, rent-free, until Morgan kicked him out, the news site reported. As part of his plea deal, Carrero has agreed to testify against both of his codefendants. Gramiccioni said in exchange for his testimony, prosecutors would recommend consecutive sentences of five to 10 years in state prison for each of the two charges to which he pleaded guilty. The prosecutor said investigations into the Mejia and Nicholas Connors killings were launched back in 1994 and 1995 but the cases went cold. “Additional evidence recently uncovered by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office Cold Case Unit and Long Branch Police Department resulted in charges being signed against the three defendants on Jan. 10, 2020,” Gramiccioni said. NJ.com reported last month that proof of the insurance payout Morgan received following her husband’s killing was part of the new evidence. An affidavit obtained by the site did not give the amount of the insurance payment she received. Cold case detectives also found that both the men accused in the crimes had confessed their alleged involvement to multiple friends. “The information given to (the friends) by Ted Connors and Jose Carrero is supported and proven to be true based on additional information discovered and confirmed in the current review of the file and additional investigation conducted over the last two years,” the affidavit read, according to NJ.com. The investigators also recently uncovered a transcript of a recorded conversation Ted Connors had with a friend about the crimes in 1995. Police re-interviewed one of the witnesses and obtained a new statement from him a couple of months ago, the affidavit said. Carrero’s sentencing was scheduled for June 5, but prosecutors told NJ.com it would not take place until he had testified against Morgan and Ted Connors. Both mother and son remain jailed without bond in the Monmouth County Correctional Institution.
  • A local man linked to the death of a woman has been sentenced for another crime. Action News Jax has been digging into Corey Binderim’s since he was named a person of interest in Susan Mauldin’s disappearance in November.  Corey Binderim pleaded guilty to uttering charges, a third-degree felony, for a counterfeit check.  Binderim was told he needed to pay Vystar Credit Union $5,000 in restitution.  Action News Jax has been following this story for months.  In October, 65-year-old Susan Mauldin disappeared from her home in Clay County Binderim had been hired to do some work for her at her house, but when he didn’t complete the job she asked for her money back.  Binderim was charged with her murder after her remains were found earlier this month by the FBI in a Georgia landfill after sifting through 7,000 tons of trash.  Judge Adrian Soud sentenced Binderim to 86 days in jail in Duval County on uttering charges.  He was given credit for that much time served already.  Now he’s waiting to be moved to Clay County to face more serious charges.  “You will be transported from the Duval County jail to the sheriff’s office in custody in Clay County to answer for the charges in Clay County. You will be held in the Clay County jail until further order of the court in clay county, do you understand that?” Judge Adrian Soud said.  We’ve reached out to the Clay County Sheriff’s Office and the state attorney’s office to find out when Binderim is expected to leave Duval County.
  • Charles ‘Corky’ Rogers, a former football coach for The Bolles School, has died, Action News Jax has learned. He was a graduate of Robert E. Lee High School in Jacksonville, where he was a three-sport star playing on the 1960 state champion football team and 1961 state baseball championship team.  He played for Bobby Dodd at Georgia Tech and briefly for Don Shula with the Baltimore Colts. He coached at Lee and won 10 straight district titles from 1977-1986. He took over as coach at The Bolles School in 1989 and won seven state titles with two runner-up finishes. Among Florida coaches with more than 300 wins, Rogers is the only coach with fewer than 100 losses.  He amassed more high school football victories than any other coach in Florida.  “As legendary as they come, and was always very gracious to me and my family ... prayers up for the Rogers family ... RIP to a High School Icon,” Action Sports Jax’s Dan Hicken said in a tweet.  Rogers was 76.
  • Derrick Marks Jr.’s mother said he was hurting, mourning a best friend gunned down outside a central Alabama barbershop Tuesday. “I know you forever with me until we meet again,” Marks wrote on his Facebook page about three hours after Delquan McNeily, 21, was killed. Marks, 25, of Birmingham, decided to meet some friends to play video games and take his mind off his friend’s slaying. Minutes after leaving his home, Marks was also cut down by a bullet, AL.com reported. He died a short time later at St. Vincent’s East Hospital. “We never got a chance to see him,’’ Catrina Carey said of her son’s body. “I’m devastated. I haven’t eaten. I haven’t slept. I haven’t put my eyes on him.” The spate of violence began around 1:40 p.m. Tuesday when gunfire broke out outside Corey’s Barber Shop in Center Point, AL.com said. McNeily was found dead near the doorway of the business. David Agee, deputy chief of the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, said the preliminary investigation indicated a group of men were arguing outside the barber shop, which AL.com reported is located in a heavily-populated commercial area. Witnesses from nearby businesses reported hearing at least five or six gunshots and seeing a vehicle speed away. “We don’t know what the argument was about, but weapons were drawn and a man was shot, and he is dead,” Agee said at the scene. AL.com reported that investigators determined McNeily and another man were arguing when a third person came out of the barber shop and opened fire, striking the victim. He was pronounced dead at 1:50 p.m. Marks was among the grief-stricken family and friends who gathered outside the barrier of police tape cordoning off the shop that afternoon, Carey told the news site. “They were best friends,’’ Carey said of McNeily and her son. “He used to be at my home all the time. They were very close. He was very sweet. He was the one in the bunch that never talked. He was on the timid side.” Carey said she saw her son when he came home from the crime scene in Center Point. Concerned about the violence and about how upset Marks was, she begged him to stay in that night. “I said, ‘Just don’t go back out. I don’t know what’s going on. Please just stay in the house,‘” Carey told AL.com. Marks got a phone call, however, and was soon packing up his gaming console to take with him to the Hunter Ridge Apartments in nearby Irondale, where he and friends planned to play for cash. He walked out the door around 6 p.m. and within 15 minutes, he had been fatally wounded. Carey told AL.com a bullet that struck Marks in the leg traveled internally to his heart, killing him. He was pronounced dead at the hospital at 7:13 p.m., less than six hours after his best friend’s official time of death. The shootings took place about 6 miles apart. Irondale police officials told the news site Marks was found sitting in a vehicle in the apartment complex’s parking lot, which was littered with about three dozen shell casings. Investigators do not believe he was in the vehicle when he was shot. Carey said she believes her son may have been ambushed by someone who knew he was bringing cash to the apartment. She said she believes the two shootings in such a short time span are a coincidence. “In my heart, I don’t feel like one had anything to do with the other,” she told AL.com. Carey said she was still trying to comprehend both her son and his best friend being killed. “There’s so much violence in the neighborhood. We trying to talk to the kids, and the teens, and the young men, but the violence has just taken over,” she said. Carey said she will always remember the creative side of her son, who worked in refrigeration but dreamed of being a rapper. Marks had some success on the local rap scene under the stage name ABM Brazi. She urged the person who shot her son to surrender to police. “Whoever did it, especially if it was a friend, turn yourself in. You really hurt a lot of people,” Carey said, according to the news site. “I forgive you and I hope God blesses you, but I want justice served.”
  • Five teens accused of gunning down a 16-year-old girl during a botched marijuana robbery were caught on a doorbell camera arriving at and leaving the girl’s home, police and the victim’s family said. The teens have been charged with capital murder in the death of Madison Harris, 16, of Biloxi. According to the Biloxi Sun Herald, the suspects have been identified as Yakeshia Blackmon, 17; Willow Blackmon, 15; Jarvis Jermaine Cook, 17; Jasmine Joy-Sade Kelley, 15; and Jaquez Devonte Porter, 17. All five teens are being charged as adults in the homicide. The Sun Herald reported that Cook, who was already free on bond in connection with an aggravated assault case out of Gulfport, was ordered held without bail. The remaining four suspects were initially being held in lieu of $1 million bond. A judge on Wednesday revoked their bail at the request of Harrison County Prosecuting Attorney Herman Cox, the newspaper said. Biloxi police officers responded just before 2 p.m. Monday to a home on Rustwood Drive, where a caller told a 911 dispatcher a teen girl was having a “medical episode,” according to the Sun Herald. First responders found Harris, who had been shot in the hip area. Harris was taken to Merit Health Hospital, where authorities said she died during surgery. The caller, identified as Paultavius White, told detectives he was visiting Harris when the Blackmon sisters arrived with two teen boys and tried to rob Harris. According to an arrest affidavit obtained by the Sun Herald, White said he, Harris and Kelley were in a back bedroom when the two boys came to a window and pointed a gun at Harris, demanded she open it. White told investigators he recognized the boy with the gun as a teen nicknamed “Teflon,” the affidavit said. “Teflon” was later identified as Porter. The window was broken and would not open all the way, White told police. The Blackmon sisters entered the house, and then the bedroom, and Porter handed the gun to Yakeshia Blackmon, White said. White told detectives he grabbed Yakeshia Blackmon to take the gun from her and that it fired during the struggle. The bullet struck Harris in the hip. The affidavit said a Ring doorbell camera on the home caught footage of the Blackmon sisters, Cook and Porter entering the house. The footage showed them running out in separate directions after the shooting, with White chasing after them, the Sun Herald reported. James Waldeck, the fiancé of Harris’ grandmother, described the footage for WLOX in Biloxi. Waldeck told the news station Harris was at the home with White, who was a good friend of hers, while her father was in the backyard, raking leaves. She and her father, Stuart Harris, had lived there with her grandmother, Susan Richards, and Waldeck for about four years, following her parents’ divorce. “One girl came in, I saw on the Ring doorbell, about a half hour before,” Waldeck said. “And then, according to my Ring doorbell, four of them charged in an unlocked door here at the carport. And within a matter of 10 seconds, the shooting and screaming, and then them running out the door being chased by Paul, her friend, and then her dad.” White told authorities he believed Kelley, the youngest of the group, had set Harris up to be robbed by the sisters, the affidavit said. Detectives wrote that surveillance footage and neighbors indicated a red sedan with front-end damage had fled the scene just after the shooting, the newspaper said. Officers canvassing the neighborhood found a red Toyota Camry matching that description about 3 miles from the home, with Cook and another person inside. That person has not been charged in the case. The Blackmon sisters were arrested at their home across the street from the house where Harris was killed, the newspaper reported. A crew with WLOX was there covering the shooting when the girls were handcuffed and taken away. Detectives wrote in the affidavit that all five teens admitted to participating in the botched robbery, the Sun Herald reported. Their stories appeared to match what White told police. Waldeck told the news station Harris was friends with some of the teens accused of killing her. “They were in our house -- I thought as friends -- a number of different times, yes,” Waldeck said. “They just lived two or three houses down and across the street.” Waldeck said the friendly relationship changed after he and the other residents of his home suspected the teens broke in about two weeks before the shooting. “Of course, the police were called and we were pressing charges against that first crime, and we’re afraid this may have been retaliation against us reporting their crime,” Waldeck told WLOX. His interview with the news station may explain why the window didn’t open all the way when the teens were trying to get in to rob Harris. “We screwed the window shut so they couldn’t get in there,” Waldeck said. “We put deadbolts on the doors so that they had to be locked with a key to get in or out, but the carport door was unlocked and that’s where they made their way in.” Due to their ages, none of the teens are eligible for the death penalty if convicted of capital murder, the Sun Herald said. They would instead serve sentences of life in prison without parole. Waldeck said he believes the teens meant to kill Harris, who he described as “a beautiful young lady, completely innocent of all these things that have happened to her.” “She loved her music and she loved her friends,” Waldeck said. “She had a big laugh and always enjoyed herself, wherever she was.” Harris’ cousin, Peyton Harris, described the slain girl as being like an older sister. “She was always there for me and my cousins,” the teen said. “You know, she did nothing to deserve this, and I don’t know why this happened to her.” Waldeck said Harris loved her family, which included two brothers, a half sister and two stepbrothers. “She was a sweet girl who didn’t hurt anyone,” Waldeck told the news station.

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