Corrine Brown and her co-conspirators, Ronnie Simmons and Carla Wiley, may want to avoid prison time for their One Door for Education hustle.
But federal prosecutors don’t appear to be moved, per a 50 page sentencing memorandum dropped on Thursday.
The feds contend that in the history of “public corruption” cases involving former Reps. Richard Jefferson, Chaka Fattah, Jesse Jackson Jr., and Rick Renzi, that “no court sentenced any of these defendants to a probationary sentence.”
The government also has tabulated the cost of restitution, offering a “conservative estimate” of $452,515.87, itemized per donor.
The stentorian 50-page memo is blunt from the outset: “Society expects courts to punish convicted and corrupt politicians. If the legal system does not do so, our system of justice loses credibility, and the public is left with the impression that there are some citizens who are truly above the law. This cannot be the case.”
Central to the government’s case for an actual sentence here: the fraud was ongoing.
“The tax fraud scheme spanned three election cycles. Brown’s fraud, scheme to make false statements, and tax
fraud convictions illustrate that her entitlement disposition transitioned into criminal conduct that persisted for years. Brown’s culture of fraud became more brazen over time and culminated in the One Door For Education fraud, which was the primary focus of the government’s prosecution,” the sentencing memo asserts.
Prosecutors lambaste Brown for her rhetorical rodomontade, singling out a statement made in which she “ridiculed the American system of justice and rule of law” by conflating her investigation with the feds’ failure to stop Omar Matteen from the Pulse massacre.
“I represent Orlando. These are the same agents that was not able to do a thorough investigation of [Omar Mateen] and we ended up with fifty dead people, and over forty-eight people injured. Same Justice Department. Same
agents. And with that, I will see you in court,” Brown told media last July.
“Brown stooped so low as to state that if the Jacksonville FBI had not spent resources investigating her fraudulent conduct, then the Pulse nightclub tragedy in Orlando on June 12, 2016 would not have occurred,” prosecutors assert.
The memo also charges Brown with fraudulent charges of racism, saying they were “a complete fabrication meant to distract the public – and no doubt potential jurors – from the very serious allegations against her.”
Key to the hardline position: lost opportunities.
“The real travesty of this case is what One Door could have been. Corrine Brown had the power, willing donation base, and clear opportunity to transform One Door into a life changing charity,” the Feds assert. “Brown, Simmons, and Wiley not only squandered this opportunity, they abused it for their own benefit. The victims in this case are the students who received nothing.”
The feds also note Brown’s flippancy on the stand, including when she was asked about money transfers.
“I had birthdays. I had Christmas. You know, and sometimes I had boyfriends. So I mean, I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Brown quipped about money received one January.
“None of this money could be attributable to her birthday (which is in November) or Christmas, and it is highly unlikely that this money entirely consists of annual exclusion gifts or cash gifts from boyfriends,” the Feds remark.
Deceit is a leit motif in the memo, with the feds coming back over and over again to brazen fabrications from Brown: “Corrine Brown’s trial testimony was replete with material falsehoods. After taking an oath to tell the truth, Brown treated the witness stand in this Courthouse as a kind of political pulpit to say anything – no matter the degree of falsity.”
Brown’s attempts to pin the blame on Simmons, her former chief of staff, are described as one manifestation of a “common defense strategy to discredit a testifying co-defendant.”
The memo’s descriptions of serial perjury, coupled with the defense’s inability to score a single win in this case, suggest that sentencing for Brown next week will be brutal.