Federal Judge Timothy Corrigan is expected to sentence Corrine Brown later this summer on 18 counts related to a fraudulent educational charity, “One Door for Education.”
Brown is not the only One Door participant that will be sentenced by Corrigan, as Carla Wiley — the CEO of the charity — will also be sentenced by Corrigan,
Wiley’s sentence is contingent on cooperation with the federal prosecutors, and she provided it in her testimony in the Corrine Brown trial.
Judge Marcia Morales Howard noted in her order that since Corrigan tried the Brown case, it “appears these cases should be in front of the same judge.”
Carla Wiley, the head of the One Door for Education charity, took the stand in one of the most anticipated testimonies of the trial.
Wiley had pleaded out already.
What was a mystery – how Brown’s machine took over a previously below-the-radar charity.
Part of it came down to love. Part of it came down to circumstance.
And all of it, said Wiley, amounted to fraud.
Wiley, who dated Brown’s chief-of-staff and former co-defendant, Ronnie Simmons, outlined something key to the prosecution case: a narrative that Brown had a key role in orchestrating the scheme, even though emails and surveillance video show that Simmons did most of the withdrawals from One Door and transfers to Brown’s accounts, along with cash withdrawals.
Wiley’s charity and consulting business served as a pass-through for One Door donations, which went to lavish travel for herself and Simmons.
When asked if she engaged in “fraud” for One Door, Wiley said yes – and that Brown and Simmons did also.
Brown and Simmons were the rainmakers, raising all but “two or three thousand dollars” of the $800,000 brought in, she said.
And, through all that time, she knew of one scholarship for One Door.
Hundreds of thousands of dollars came in, said Wiley, who owned up to wire fraud and profiting off of the charity.
The charity had closed its original bank account, with some thought of finding a different way of helping children, before on-again/off-again boyfriend Simmons convinced Wiley to let her non-profit host a reception for Brown in Sept. 2012.
Wiley offered the charity for that use. And she gave Simmons the debit cards and checks, trusting him to “manage it correctly.”
“I thought it would be a good way to help, get a lot of exposure,” Wiley said, with her access to her mother’s scholarship fund restricted to online only.
“As he would write checks, he would sign my name,” Wiley said regarding Simmons.
Wiley and Simmons would discuss the account balance, via email and text. Brown was out of the loop on these discussions, Wiley said.
Wiley stopped soliciting donations herself; the machine was run by Simmons within months after the arrangement was struck, even though donations would sometimes be FedEx’d to the office of Wiley’s former employer.
Money for car payments and other expenses, for Wiley and her family, coursed from the One Door account also, the witness said.
Wiley was schmoozing donors at certain events … and deciding to spend money raised: $140,000 total, she claimed on the stand. The money, extracted over three years, “came out pretty frequent,” Wiley said.
When asked about her biggest withdrawal, Wiley couldn’t recall.
Meanwhile, even with Wiley’s mother’s name on the charity and Wiley as the president, the charity was essentially Simmons’ machine to run and deploy, including sending out fundraising pitch letters to money marks, with forged signatures a specialty of his.
By May 2015, tension had become notable, with Wiley bringing up the “trouble” in an email to Simmons, noting the money came in but wasn’t going out for charitable purposes. In that email, Wiley asserted that the treasurer had expressed concerns; that was a lie, but the real story was Wiley’s own concerns about the charity having become a scam.
Details – such as the lapsed 501(3)c status of One Door – went undisclosed to Brown, Wiley said.
Meanwhile, lavish romantic trips with Simmons and Wiley, by and large, were also outside the purview of Brown – though Wiley didn’t know One Door was funding the trips, she said.
Wiley said nothing to Brown or Simmons, and didn’t know they were working the same scam.