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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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  • The death toll attributed to the 2019 novel coronavirus continues to rise, with tens of thousands of people sickened and thousands of others killed by the virus, mostly in China. The coronavirus, dubbed COVID-19 by the World Health Organization, was discovered late last year in Wuhan, China. Here are the latest updates:  Officials will use center in Alabama as quarantine facility Update 2:06 p.m. EST Feb 22: Concern is growing in Israel, where health officials said a woman who was a passenger aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan tested positive for the virus after returning home, The New York Times reported. Meanwhile, after nine South Koreans who visited Israel tested positive for the coronavirus after returning home, the Israeli government began closing the country to South Korean travelers, the newspaper reported. Passengers flying on a Korean Air flight scheduled to land at Ben Gurion Airport at 7:30 p.m. Saturday were expected to be barred entry into the country, the Times reported, citing Ynet, an Israeli news organization. Government officials were expected to decide Sunday whether other inbound flights from South Korea would be allowed, the newspaper reported. Japan waited 72 hours before imposing quarantine on cruise ship Update 10:56 a.m. EST Feb 22: More than 72 hours elapsed before Japanese officials imposed a quarantine on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, The New York Times reported. Early on the morning of Feb. 2, before the ship had docked in Yokohama, Hong Kong officials informed the Japanese health ministry about an infected passenger, the newspaper reported. A spokeswoman for Princess Cruises said the company received “formal verification” of the infection from Hong Kong on Feb. 3, the Times reported. The announcement was made to passengers that night, and they were advised around 11 p.m. to remain in their rooms, the Times reported. On Feb. 5, the captain of the Diamond Princess confirmed there were 10 cases of the coronavirus on the ship, and passengers were told they needed to return to their rooms, where they were quarantined for 14 days, according to the newspaper. University of Memphis graduate Luke Hefner, a singer who was aboard the Princess Diamond, was one of the 10 people on board confirmed with the virus, WHBQ reported. After Hefner tested positive for the virus, crews rushed him off the ship and into a Japanese hospital Feb. 18, the television station reported. WHO experts heading to China; African nations warned Update 9:25 a.m. EST Feb 22: A team of experts from the World Health Organization was heading to the Chinese city of Wuhan, the center of the coronavirus epidemic, the agency’s director general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, told The New York Times. Tedros confirmed the trip during an address Saturday morning to African officials from Geneva, the newspaper reported. “We have to take advantage of the window of opportunity we have, to attack the virus outbreak with a sense of urgency,” Tedros told the leaders during an emergency meeting on the response to the coronavirus in the continent. There has been only one confirmed case of coronavirus in Africa, but officials are concerned because several countries have strained health systems, the Times reported. The WHO has identified 13 priority countries in Africa because of their direct links to China, the newspaper reported. Italy confirms 2nd coronavirus death  Update 6:45 a.m. EST Feb 22: A second novel coronavirus patient in Italy has died. A spokesperson for the country’s department of civil protection, or Protezione Civile, confirmed the death to CNN on Saturday. According to a health ministry spokesman, the woman who previously tested positive for the virus died in the northern region of Lombardy. South Korea reports 229 new cases in 24 hours  Update 6:17 a.m. EST Feb 22: An additional 87 novel coronavirus cases reported Saturday brings South Korea’s 24-hour total to 229 and the country’s total number of confirmed cases to 433. According to a statement issued by the South Korean Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 62 of the 87 new cases are linked with the Shincheonji religious group, and three cases are linked with Cheongdo Daenam hospital, in North Gyeongsang province. Iran confirms 10 new cases, 5th death  Update 6:15 a.m. EST Feb 22: The numbers might sound low, but the surge in diagnosed novel coronavirus cases in Iran is boosting concerns among global health officials the outbreak could soon reach pandemic levels. Iran’s health ministry confirmed 10 new cases of the virus – bringing the country’s total to 28 – and a fifth fatality. The ripple effect among travelers, however, is sounding alarm bells among infectious disease experts. According to the New York Times, cases confirmed in both Canada and Lebanon have been traced to travel to and from Iran. “The cases that we see in the rest of the world, although the numbers are small, but not linked to Wuhan or China, it’s very worrisome,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, said Friday at a news conference at the agency’s headquarters in Geneva. “These dots are actually very concerning.” Kianoush Jahanpour, Iran’s health ministry spokesman, said that of the 10 latest reported cases, two were diagnosed in Tehran and eight are in Qom. According to The Associated Press, two elderly patients died in Qom Wednesday and the two Tehran patients either visited or had links to Qom. Novel coronavirus cases diagnosed outside mainland China surpass 1,500  Update 3:24 a.m. EST Feb 22: With health officials monitoring the novel coronavirus’ spread beyond its epicenter in Wuhan, China, the number of confirmed cases diagnosed outside mainland China hit a new milestone early Saturday morning. The latest figures indicate more than 1,500 cases and 15 deaths attributed to the virus have been recorded in more than 30 countries and territories outside mainland China since December, CNN reported. The geographic breakdown of confirmed cases and deaths is as follows: • Australia: at least 21 cases • Belgium: at least 1 case • Cambodia: at least 1 case • Canada: at least 9 cases • Egypt: at least 1 case • Finland: at least 1 case • France: at least 12 cases, 1 death • Germany: at least 16 cases • Hong Kong: at least 68 cases, 2 deaths • India: at least 3 cases • Iran: at least 18 cases, 4 deaths • Israel: at least 1 case • Italy: at least 17 cases, 1 death • Japan: at least 738 cases, including 639 linked to the Diamond Princess cruise ship; 3 deaths • Lebanon: at least 1 case • Macao: at least 10 cases • Malaysia: at least 22 cases • Nepal: at least 1 case • Philippines: at least 3 cases, 1 death • Russia: at least 2 cases • Singapore: at least 86 cases • South Korea: at least 347 cases, 1 death • Spain: at least 2 cases • Sri Lanka: at least 1 case • Sweden: at least 1 case • Taiwan: at least 26 cases, 1 death • Thailand: at least 35 cases • United Arab Emirates: at least 9 cases • United Kingdom: at least 9 cases • United States: at least 35 cases • Vietnam: at least 16 cases Mainland China death toll reaches 2,345  Update 3:22 a.m. EST Feb 22: China’s National Health Commission confirmed early Saturday the death toll from the novel coronavirus has increased by another 109 fatalities to 2,345. According to CNN, all but three of the latest mainland deaths occurred in the outbreak’s Hubei province epicenter. The latest figures bring the global death toll to 2,360. Meanwhile, confirmed cases in increased by 397 on Friday, bringing mainland China’s total number of recorded cases to 76,288. Health authorities contend a total of 20,659 patients have recovered from the virus and been discharged from medical facilities. Australia confirms 6 new cases  Update 3:20 a.m. EST Feb 22: Six people repatriated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, boosting Australia’s total infection count to 21. According to the Australian government’s Department of Health, 10 patients have recovered from the illness. Diamond Princess cruise ship awaits scrub down  Update 3:18 a.m. EST Feb 22: The Diamond Princess cruise ship will soon undergo a thorough deep cleaning to prepare the vessel to resume sailing on April 29. Negin Kamali, Princess Cruises’ public relations director, told CNN Travel the company is working in tandem with the Japanese health ministry to hammer out sanitation specifics for the 116,000-ton ship. The vessel will be “fully sanitized by a cleaning company with an expertise in this area following guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and World Health Organization,” Kamali told CNN. Only 31 passengers remained onboard the ship Saturday morning after 253 who tested negative for the novel coronavirus were allowed to disembark on Friday. The ship’s 924-member crew also remains aboard. The ship has been moored in Yokohama Bay off the coast of Japan since early February. To date, the virus-stricken ship, which housed 3,600 crew and passengers upon arrival, is linked to at least 639 coronavirus infections, CNN reported. Japan reports 12 new cases  Update 3:16 a.m. EST Feb 22: Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare confirmed early Saturday the diagnoses of 12 new novel coronavirus cases, including three teenagers. The latest report brings Japan’s total number of infections to 738, including 99 on land and 639 from the Diamond Princess cruise ship.  Italy confirms first novel coronavirus death Update 3:14 a.m. EST Feb 22: Italian officials confirmed Saturday their first citizen has succumbed to the novel coronavirus. The 78-year-old man died in a Padua hospital in northern Italy. To date, the country has recorded a total of 17 infections. Taiwan confirms 2 new cases Update 3:12 a.m. EST Feb 22: Taiwan’s novel coronavirus infection count now stands at 26 after two additional cases were confirmed on the island Saturday. The most recent patients are the daughter and granddaughter of a previously diagnosed patient, and neither had traveled recently. 142 new cases of the virus reported in South Korea  Update 9 p.m. EST Feb 21: South Korea reported a six-fold jump in viral infections in four days to 346, most of them linked to a church and a hospital in and around the fourth-largest city where schools were closed and worshipers and others told to avoid mass gatherings.  Of the 142 new cases in South Korea, 131 are from Daegu and nearby regions, which have emerged as the latest front in the widening global fight against COVID-19.  China the daily count of new virus cases there fell significantly to 397, with another 109 people dying of the disease, most in the epicenter of Hubei province.  The new figures bring the total number of cases in mainland China to 76,288 with 2,345 deaths, as strict quarantine measures and travel bans continue to contain the disease that emerged in China in December and has since spread world-wide. The daily figure is down from 889. WHO’s latest situation report The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization says that coronavirus has been found in 30 countries around the world. Read the latest situation report from the WHO below. Italy’s virus cases quadruples Update 1:20 p.m. EST Feb 21: Officials in Italy are reporting that the number of people infected by coronavirus has quadrupled. As of Friday, the country has seen 17 cases, with 14 of them new. They are being considered secondary contagion cases and are clustered in small towns around Lodi, in the Lombardy region, The Associated Press reported. It was previously reported that a 38-year-old man, who is in critical condition due to coronavirus, passed the illness to his wife and a close friend after he picked it up from a person who had been in China, but not showing any symptoms. The person who was in China is in isolation and may have antibodies to battle the illness. Three patients at the hospital where the patient who is in critical condition visited when he was being treated for flu-like symptoms have tested positive. As do five nurses and doctors at the same facility. Three people who went to the same cafe as the 38-year-old man who is sick also have tested positive. Because of the cluster, the mayor of Codogno has closed schools, public buildings,s restaurants and coffee shops. And has ordered the 14-day quarantine of anyone who came in contact with the man and the two people first diagnosed, the AP reported. 1 new coronavirus case confirmed in Singapore Update 11 a.m. EST Feb. 21: Officials with Singapore’s Ministry of Health have verified another case of coronavirus in the country, bringing the total number of people infected in Singapore to 86. Authorities said the newest case involves a 24-year-old Singaporean man who was under isolation Friday at Ng Teng Fong General Hospital. His illness was linked to one reported earlier this week involving a 57-year-old woman who had no history of recent travel to China. Officials said 47 people who have been diagnosed with coronavirus in Singapore have since recovered and been released from hospitals. Lebanon, Israel confirm 1st coronavirus cases Update 10 a.m. EST Feb. 21: Health officials in Lebanon and Israel announced Friday the first confirmed coronavirus cases in the countries. Lebanon’s health minister, Hamad Hassan, said Friday that a 45-year-old woman tested positive for coronavirus after entering the country from Iran, Reuters reported. She was being quarantined Friday at a hospital in Beirut, according to Reuters. The Jerusalem Post reported an Israeli who returned to the country Thursday after being evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship has tested positive for the virus. The coronavirus case marked the first in Israel, though health officials noted the passenger had contracted virus while in Japan. Earlier this month, thousands of people were quarantined on the Diamond Princess, docked off the coast of Japan, due to coronavirus fears. Hundreds of people on the ship ended up testing positive for the viral infection. South Korea reports 2nd coronavirus death  Update 9 a.m. EST Feb. 21: Officials in South Korea reported the country’s second death due to coronavirus Friday, The Washington Post reported. Citing the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Post reported a woman in her 50s died after testing positive for the virus Friday at Daenam Hospital. She was transferred to a bigger hospital in Busan, where she died around 6 p.m., according to the newspaper. The death marked the second related to COVID-19 in South Korea. On Wednesday, a 63-year-old patient died after suffering symptoms of pneumonia in what was suspected to be the country’s first coronavirus death, according to The New York Times. Iran confirms 18 cases, 4 deaths Update 7:50 a.m. EST Feb. 21: Iranian officials confirmed on Friday that 13 new cases of the novel coronavirus have been diagnosed and two additional patients have died. Friday’s figures bring Iran’s total number of infections to 18 and the death toll from the virus to four, CNN reported. “According to the latest laboratory reports 13 more contractions of coronavirus have been confirmed, including 7 in Qom, 4 in Tehran, and two in Gilan. Unfortunately, out of these cases two have lost their lives,' health ministry spokesman Kianoosh Jahanpour tweeted Friday. 3 novel coronavirus cases confirmed in Italy Update 7:32 a.m. EST Feb. 21: Italy confirmed its first novel coronavirus cases Friday, noting three people in a city near Milan have tested positive for the illness. According to The Washington Post, the first patient to contract the virus was a 38-year-old man in the northern region of Lombardy, who fell ill after dining with a friend who had recently returned from China. The man then passed the illness on to his wife and a close friend. All three patients have been hospitalized, the Post reported. Confirmed novel coronavirus cases, fatalities continue to increase globally Update 6:46 a.m. EST Feb. 21: Globally, more than 76,900 novel coronavirus cases have been reported, according to the latest figures released Friday morning by health officials in China. Although the majority of cases – around 75,600 – remain clustered in mainland China, more than 1,300 cases have been confirmed in 29 countries, CNN reported. Meanwhile, 118 additional deaths were confirmed in mainland China Friday, with the global death toll reaching 2,247, the network reported. Vaccine nearing clinical trials in China Update 6:44 a.m. EST Feb. 21: Xu Nanping, China’s vice minister of Science and Technology, told reporters Friday that Chinese researchers expect to submit the first COVID-19 vaccine for clinical trials around late April. The status update comes roughly one month after Chinese officials established a coronavirus scientific research group, consisting of 14 experts led by renowned pulmonologist Zhong Nanshan, The Washington Post reported. “One month is a very short time for scientific research, but a very long time for patients struggling with the disease. The scientific and technological community nationwide will put the safety of people’s lives and health first and spare no effort to continue to produce tangible and effective scientific research results,” Xu told reporters during the briefing. Protesters attack Wuhan evacuee bus in Ukraine; 9 police officers, 1 civilian injured Update 6:42 a.m. EST Feb. 21: The Ukrainian Ministry of Internal Affairs said nine police officers and one civilian were injured Thursday when protesters attacked a bus carrying evacuees from Wuhan, China. According to CNN, protesters had blocked roads in Noviy Sanzhari, the town where the evacuees are to be monitored for two weeks at a medical facility belonging to the Ukrainian National Guard. “Those people who today threw stones at the evacuees of Ukrainians and law enforcement officers ... We will make a decision on their punishment,” said Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, confirming one officer was seriously injured in the incident instigated by “aggressive citizens,” the network reported. South Korean coronavirus infections continue to increase Update 3:46 a.m. EST Feb. 21: The number of confirmed novel coronavirus infections in South Korea increased to 204 on Friday, nearly doubling in 24 hours and almost quadrupling in three days, the South Korean Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed in a statement issued early Friday. Health officials believe the majority of the new cases are connected to a church in Daegu, a city of about two and half million people in the southeastern region of the country. Specifically, 42 of the newest cases reported Friday have been traced to the church called Shincheonji. The country also reported on Thursday what officials believe could be South Korea’s first fatality from the virus. The 63-year-old woman exhibiting symptoms of pneumonia died Wednesday at the Daenam Hospital in Cheongdo, The New York Times reported. Prison outbreaks boost novel coronavirus cases in mainland China Update 3:43 a.m. EST Feb. 21: More than 500 novel coronavirus cases have been confirmed in prisons across China, including 271 cases – 51 of which had been counted in previous tallies – in Hubei province, CNN reported. Meanwhile, officials announced in a joint news conference on Friday that of the 2,077 prisoners and staff at Rencheng prison in China’s eastern Shandong province tested for the virus, 200 prisoners and seven staff members tested positive. Zhejiang province announced 34 prison cases on Friday, bringing the correctional total to 512, CNN reported. Canada records its 9th confirmed novel coronavirus case, 6th in British Columbia Update 3:41 a.m. EST Feb. 21: British Columbia’s Ministry of Health confirmed Friday a woman in her 30s has become the province’s sixth diagnosed case of novel coronavirus and the ninth for Canada. According to the statement, the woman had recently returned from Iran and is being isolated at home while public health officials identify and contact those people with whom she had contact upon returning Meanwhile, 47 of the 256 Canadian passengers aboard the beleaguered Diamond Princess cruise ship – moored off the coast of Japan – have tested positive for the virus. All 256 will be subject to a 14-day quarantine in Ontario once their evacuations are complete, CNN reported. 11 of 13 people evacuated to Omaha test positive for COVID-19  Update 11 p.m. EST Feb. 20: Federal experts confirmed that 11 of 13 people evacuated to an Omaha hospital from a cruise ship in Japan have tested positive for COVID-19, Nebraska officials announced Thursday night. The University of Nebraska Medical Center said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had verified test results completed Monday by the Nebraska Public Health Lab. Ten of those people are being cared for at the National Quarantine Unit while three are in the nearby Nebraska Biocontainment Unit. The medical center said only a few of the patients were showing symptoms of the disease. All 13 people were passengers of the Diamond Princess cruise ship who were evacuated to the U.S. on Feb. 17. China reports fall in new virus cases, 118 deaths  Update 10 p.m. EST Feb. 20: China reported a further fall in new virus cases to 889 as health officials expressed optimism over containment of the outbreak that has caused more than 2,200 deaths and is spreading elsewhere.  New infections in China have been falling for days, although changes in how it counts cases have caused doubts about the true trajectory of the epidemic.  China’s figures for the previous 24 hours brought the total number of cases to 75,465. The 118 newly reported deaths raised the total to 2,236. More than 1,000 cases and 11 deaths have been confirmed outside the mainland. 4 Americans who tested positive for COVID-19 sent to hospital in Spokane, Washington  Update 7:30 p.m. EST Feb. 20: Four Americans who tested positive for the new virus that caused an outbreak China are being sent to a hospital in Spokane, Washington, for treatment, officials said Thursday.  The four were passengers on the Diamond Princess cruise ship and were flown back to the U.S. over the weekend, according to a spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Human Services. They were being transferred from Travis Air Force Base in California, hospital officials said.  Two patients arrived at the hospital Thursday in satisfactory condition with two more expected soon, said Christa Arguinchona, who manages a special isolation unit at Sacred Heart Medical Center. The hospital is one of 10 in the nation funded by Congress to treat new or highly infectious diseases.  “The risk to the community from this particular process is zero,” said Bob Lutz of the Spokane Regional Health District at a briefing Thursday at the hospital. WHO: ‘This is no time for complacency’ Update 2:25 p.m. EST Feb. 20: World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Thursday that recent declines in the number of new coronavirus cases being reported in China were encouraging, but he warned, “this is no time for complacency.” As pf 6 a.m. Geneva time Thursday, 74,675 people in China and 1,076 people in order parts of the world had been sickened by coronavirus, according to WHO. Officials said 2,121 people in China and seven people outside of the country have died thus far of the viral infection. 'This is the time to attack the virus while it is manageable,” Tedros said, according to The Washington Post. “You will get sick of me saying that the window of opportunity remains open for us to contain this COVID-19 outbreak.” CDC warns travels to take precautions for travel to Japan, Hong Kong Update 12:20 p.m. EST Feb. 20: The Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new coronavirus-related travel advisories Thursday for Americans visiting Japan or Hong Kong. The advisories warned travelers to avoid contact with sick people, avoid touching their eyes, noses or mouths with their unwashed hands and recommended using soap and water often to wash hands for at least 20 seconds. Officials said Thursday that it remained unnecessary to postpone or cancel trips to Japan or Hong Kong due to the virus. However, the CDC advisories noted “multiple instances of community spread' in both locales, meaning people “have been infected with the virus, but how or where they became infected is not known.” Officials with the CDC previously issued an advisory warning travelers to avoid non-essential travel to China. According to Japanese health officials, authorities have seen 73 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the country. One person in Japan has died of the viral infection. Health official in Hong Kong have confirmed 65 cases of coronavirus. Japan reports 12 new coronavirus cases, Singapore confirms 1 more  Update 11 a.m. EST Feb. 20: Officials in Japan have reported a dozen new confirmed cases of the coronavirus, CNN reported, citing the Japanese health ministry. The new cases include two government officials who worked on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship, according to CNN. Thousands of people were quarantined on the ship for two weeks as it was docked off the coast of Japan due to coronavirus fears. Hundreds of people on the ship ended up testing positive for the viral infection.  Officials with the Singapore Ministry of Health said Thursday that a new case of coronavirus had been confirmed in the country. The case, involving a 36-year-old Chinese national who was in Singapore on a work pass, is the 85th reported in Singapore.  Global death toll hits 2,126  Update 7:40 a.m. EST Feb. 20: More than 2,120 people have died globally and thousands of others have fallen ill due to the 2019 novel coronavirus, according to multiple reports.  At least 2,126 people globally have died from coronavirus, CNN reported Thursday. A majority of the deaths have been reported in China, where health officials announced 114 more deaths and 394 more confirmed cases of the illness. Overall, 75,730 coronavirus cases have been reported worldwide, including 74,576 in China, according to CNN.
  • There’s a new initiative to make hotels in Jacksonville safer. City Councilman Danny Becton has been instrumental in getting the ball rolling, and he says the Tourism Industry and Public Safety Alliance is the result of more than a year’s worth of work. “TIPSA will operate as an exclusive network that will work on the basis of if you see something say something,” Becton says. The alliance will have three components. Organizers plan to implement basic standard across all hotels. They’ll improve communication and access to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. Lastly, participating hotels will join a WhatsApp thread to communication between each other and police. So far 30 hotels around Jacksonville have signed up with the number continuing to climb, and Becton says they’re also keeping an eye on the hotels that aren’t involved yet. “We’re going to put pressure on them right now to participate and not be part of the problem,” Becton says. Some of the changes are as simple as checking guest IDs and standardizing payment procedures for everyone involved.
  • On Friday, Jacksonville’s Downtown Investment Authority gave the green light to develop the land where the old courthouse and annex used to stand. Right now, two lots on prime riverfront property are empty. One lot sits behind the Hyatt. The other lot is right on the water next to the Berkman Plaza.  The DIA signed off on the Spandrel Group’s $136 million vision called the Ford on Bay.  There would be restaurants, lofts, retail space and a lot of pedestrian space built in two phases. The first phase would happen on the property right on the water. The second phase involves the lot next door, but there’s a catch – the Hyatt has the right of first refusal to buy the land. If it doesn’t, Spandrel can get the land and start phase two.  Action News Jax’s Paige Kelton drove by the lots today and found signs that development could soon be in the works.  Fences were up around the property Friday.  Spandrel wants the city to give it the property to develop. That aspect is still being worked out.  The Jacksonville City Council must still sign off on the referendum approved by the DIA.
  • A new push is underway in St. Augustine to honor and recognize African American soldiers who fought in the Civil War. A group is spearheading a new project to put the memorial next to a Confederate statue.  Many neighbors support the idea, but not the placement.  The memorial would be in the park on the westside of the Governor’s House Cultural Center and Museum.  St. Augustine’s Historic Architectural review board is asking a University of Florida board to get input from neighbors and relatives of black soldiers.  “To me it’s like a slap in the face with that,” said business owner Nyk Smith.  Smith works at her family corner store in historic Lincolnville.  “The placement of that new statue that they’re talking about, yea sure, that’s great down there but definitely not next to the confederate monument,” said Smith.  St. Augustine’s Historic Review Board said the memorial to honor black troops who fought in the civil war will stand next to the monument of Confederate General William Loring and his ashes.  The board said the memorial will be about 8 feet tall with three granite panels.  It will list names of local men who served in what was then called the colored troops.  “They need to remove the monument and put it in the cemetery where it belongs,” said Smith.  “Hopefully something like this with them hearing what black people are thinking and feeling they would be moved to do some action,” Mclain said.  The board will now wait until April 16 to decide whether or not to move forward with the new memorial.
  • After the discovery of human remains this week at a construction site near I-295 and North Main Street as well as on a private property off of Eastport Road where soil was being transferred from, the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office has released a major update. According to JSO, excavation crews uncovered a marked headstone late Thursday. Police say the headstone was found to have a name and a military rank inscribed on it. After this find, JSO says the excavation operations were stopped to ensure that the remains were handled in a sensitive and appropriate manner. That includes working to track down any living family members.  JSO says the site has been confirmed as a documented cemetery according to the Work Progress Administration Veteran's Grave Registration for 1940-1941 in Duval County.  Additionally, police say there was other evidence found at the site that is consistent with grave burials, including nails, wood, metal, and handles. Police say the rest of the remains will now be handled by state officials and affiliated experts.

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