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Reggie Gaffney disclaims responsibility for non-profit’s alleged training and HR failures

Community Rehabilitation Center – the non-profit of Jacksonville City Councilman Reggie Gaffney best known for its cameo appearances in the Corrine Brown trial and a Medicaid overbilling scandal – is back in the news.

The subject this time: a late-May whistleblower lawsuit in Florida’s 4th Circuit, filed by an employee who alleges that she was “unlawfully terminated” by the non-profit … after she was allegedly exposed to risk from HIV-positive clients without proper training and licensure. [Complaint against CRC].

We caught up with Gaffney Tuesday, and he noted that he was too busy with Council business the last couple of years to be held responsible.

“The last two years, I spent my time being a City Councilman,” Gaffney related, “and that’s why you hire staff to run the day to day.”

“We’ll see where it goes from here. I do know this: last 24 years, I probably hired 500 or 600 [staffers], and we’ve trained them all the same,” Gaffney said — an interesting revelation, if indeed the whistleblower’s allegations are found to have merit, with regard to not being trained to deal with HIV-positive patients.

“I don’t know the specifics,” Gaffney added, “I want to believe that my management staff knew what they [were] doing.”

One allegation the complainant made had to do with Gaffney specifically — a claim that Gaffney would “say anything to you to get you out of his face.”

Gaffney was “disturbed … that any person would say that. But I haven’t yet began to look into that,” the Councilman said of the suit filed nearly a month ago, “because I’ve been so focused on city business.”

Gaffney doesn’t expect CRC to settle, saying “there’s no merit to settle,” and he will trust his staff and the decisions they made.

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Backstory on the filing, in exhaustive detail, below:

The plaintiff, Darlene Peoples, worked for CRC from 2013 to Sept. 2016. Most of her tenure was unremarkable – until the end.

In Jun. 2016, Peoples was “inexplicably” re-assigned to be a “mental health counselor” from her previous position, “substance abuse counselor,” in a move the filing describes as “ill-advised.”

There was a problem with that re-assignment: Peoples allegedly wasn’t trained in this position, which requires licensure and training according to Florida Statute.

No license? No matter, Peoples asserts. Despite her concerns about not being licensed, and other “safety concerns,” the tenured employee was put in a position for which she was not ready. Allegedly.

Meanwhile, Peoples alleges that her replacement as a substance abuse counselor “had no experience in substance abuse counseling, and frequently expressed how overwhelmed and unqualified she felt in her new position.”

Weeks after the re-assignment, CRC set up an appointment to train Peoples in the job to which she was assigned. The trainer, alleges Peoples, no-showed the meeting. When Peoples told Human Resources, she allegedly was served up a cryptic response: “Emergencies happen.”

The training was scuttled – including training in AIDS education, via the state-mandated Ryan White program. The employee Peoples was assigned to shadow for two weeks in lieu of training also hadn’t been trained in this pivotal program. Allegedly.

The most Peoples learned from this employee? Billing procedures, asserts the filing. And even regarding how to bill, Peoples alleges that a key component – DCF’s “Functional Assessment Ratings Scales” – was not provided. So, allegedly, CRC got that wrong too.

“Given the mental health conditions of her [HIV-positive] patients,” the filing alleges, the “lack of risk management training from the Defendant was especially concerning and posed an acute threat to patients and herself.”

Despite her alleged objections to this, Peoples alleges that other efforts toward training were unfulfilled and frustrated, culminating in an alleged Aug. 2016 assertion by another CRC employee that “we don’t have a training manual for Ryan White mental health counselors.”

As slipshod as Peoples alleges the training was, the grievance process went no better, as she alleges she was thwarted when seeking the grievance policy.

And a conversation with Reggie Gaffney, the regional director of CRC, went no better – allegedly.

Peoples said she felt unsafe. Gaffney said he would look into it. Nothing happened from there, save another CRC employee telling her that “People need to follow the chain of command. Mr. Gaffney will tell you anything to get you out of his face.”

Soon thereafter, Peoples was terminated, allegedly for a “bigoted” attitude toward HIV-positive people. This, alleges Peoples, despite the fact that she had worked with HIV-positive inmates for six years as a correctional officer with no incident.

Peoples asserts that OSHA guarantees her a safe workplace – and that standard was not met, willfully, by the Councilman’s non-profit.

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Councilman Gaffney’s brief career in political life has been characterized by an unusual amount of aspersions cast on his ethics.

On the campaign trail in 2015, Gaffney was hammered by a political opponent in a debate for Medicaid overbilling.

“He was charged with overbilling, worked that deal, and that’s how he stayed out of jail,” the opponent asserted.

It was left to Gaffney’s consultant, disgraced and currently incarcerated Brunswick preacher Ken Adkins, to make peace, walking Gaffney to his car.

As he and Adkins beat a hasty retreat, Gaffney issued a public prayer: “Father, I ask you to remove Satan from this room.”

____

Gaffney was expected to be a witness in the trial of his former political mentor, Corrine Brown, especially after documentation surfaced that money moved from one CRC subsidiary to Brown’s bank account, and after a pattern was established by the state that Brown issued dummy donations to non-profits.

Gaffney asserted that Brown was doing the “right thing with my money” – an interesting syntactical choice, given that the money was that of the non-profit. And Brown apparently donated to CRC over the years.

Brown’s attorney, James W. Smith III, was concerned by Gaffney’s statements (reported Action News Jax’s Jenna Bourne), yet ultimately chose to file new trial and acquittal motions based on other factors besides Gaffney’s credibility and ability to deliver on the stand.

In fact, the motion for a new trial was predicated almost exclusively on whether or not a juror could be removed for being guided in deliberations by “the Holy Spirit.”

____

Gaffney has told this reporter on numerous occasions that he intends to run for re-election in 2019. He faces, thus far, three opponents — though none have traction with donors as of yet.

Jax Councilor Katrina Brown town hall: a ‘dog and pony show’?

Though it’s the summer of 2017, things are heating up already in the 2019 race for Jacksonville City Council District 8.

And reaction to a town hall event held by incumbent Councilwoman Katrina Brown won’t cool the temperature.

Diallo Sekou, who filed this week to take on the embattled first-term Democrat, posted to Facebook last night his irritation.

“I just left a so called town hall meeting, the citizens never got a chance to speak!  An audience full of elders … elders and never let them speak,” Sekou posted.

Other attendees, albeit privately, raised their concerns about a Councilor’s town hall where said Councilor wouldn’t deign to take questions from the people who showed up to ask them.

Hardworking taxpayers and loyal Democrats wanted to ask Brown about her recurrent ethical challenges, but “no Q and A was allowed,” with an agenda packed with speakers that took the event to its end time, where Brown wrapped it with “many hands raised” and “lots of grumbling” from those who wanted answers.

One attendee said the event was more like “pecha kucha” than a town hall, which seemed to be a design element to insulate Brown from dialogue with taxpayers and voters.

“A couple of times people stood up and asked if they could ask a question and they got ignored and then [Councilwoman Brown] shut down the last one pretty sharply which elicited grumbles in the room. And of course the aide had to go over there and smooth it over.”

Of course, FloridaPolitics.com readers know full well what was on attendees’ minds — and why Brown apparently structured a two-hour event so that she wouldn’t have to face questions about glaring financial irregularities that have led to the sorry impasse of her companies being sued by the city of Jacksonville.

On Monday, Brown ducked questions about the city of Jacksonville suing two family businesses for which she is title manager. The city’s grievance: the two LLCs received almost $600,000 of city grants and loans to create 56 jobs for a BBQ sauce plant.

Alas, the companies fell 56 jobs short of that goal, and the city seeks a $210K clawback via a default judgement.

Brown, minutes after getting out of her Porsche SUV that is newer in vintage than that 2011 economic development deal, was in no mood to address such quotidian concerns on Monday.

“I continue to tell you no comment. You can ask me a thousand times and I would still say no comment,” Brown said.

When asked if she was worried about the questions coming up from taxpayers at her town hall, Brown said no.

“That’s not going to be the focus,” Brown said of the town hall attendees. “They won’t be able to bring it up.”

Brown and her family businesses may not have been as good as their word when it came to honoring an economic development deal with the city and other parties: CoWealth originally borrowed $2.65 million via an SBA loan from Biz Capital, in addition to $380,000 from the city of Jacksonville and $220,000 of grants, for the sauce plant.

However, she was successful in what seemed to be a primary goal of the town hall: to shut down audience reaction, and to create an impression that the people in her district don’t care about ethical lapses among their representatives.

For Katrina Brown, it’s been an interesting two years. One need only go back to May 2015, in which she ran a radio ad as her campaign ended, to see how her messaging has been compromised by the ethical and legal sinkholes in which her family businesses are stuck.

At that point, Brown pledged to “serve the people” … an ironic phrase, given that she didn’t want to take questions from the people at Thursday’s town hall.

“My daughter Katrina Brown took a small business and turned it into a million dollar entity … that’s why the Congresswoman Corrine Brown endorses her,” Councilwoman Brown’s father said in that ad.

Ironic. And here’s another irony from the same ad.

Brown also referred to the BBQ sauce business as a “Jacksonville success story” … hilarious, given that the company is dealing with legal actions on every front, and given that the BBQ sauce plant was subject to an FBI raid last year — all of which seems to indicate something less than success.

“Agents from the IRS criminal investigation division, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Office of the Inspector General and the FBI Small Business Administration division were on scene for more than three hours,” reported WJXT at the time.

Corrine Brown’s motions will fail, says Ronnie Simmons’ lawyer

Less than a year ago, Corrine Brown and Ronnie Simmons were yoked at the hip, as Congresswoman and Chief of Staff.

Less than six months ago, both were off the federal payroll — yet yoked as co-defendants in the One Door for Education fraud case.

Much has changed since then.

Simmons struck a plea deal with the feds in February, pleading guilty on two counts, with his sentencing contingent on substantial cooperation with the feds.

As part of that cooperation, Simmons had to testify against his old boss — whose attorney, in an otherwise torpid defense, actually brought the fire in the cross-examination.

Now, as Simmons waits to find out his fate, Corrine Brown seeks to alter hers, with motions last week for a new trial and an acquittal.

The motion for a new trial was predicated on a claim that the juror who got bounced because he was compelled in decision-making by the Holy Spirit was removed erroneously. And the motion for acquittal was predicated on essentially re-litigating the trial, to again make the case that Brown was a dupe of her staffer and his girlfriend, and she was too old and enfeebled to do anything about it.

Simmons’ lawyer, Anthony Suarez, spoke with FloridaPolitics.com’s Terry Roen in Orlando Wednesday. He is skeptical of these motions.

“I’ve examined the motions and believe they’re not strong enough because they don’t cite a lot of case law,” said Suarez. “They’re not going to be successful.”

He also said he anticipated the defense attacking his client.

“I compare it to the Whac-A-Mole game,” said Suarez. “The prosecutor and Brown took turns whacking my client.”

Suarez, from the beginning of pre-trial proceedings, was frank in saying that he expected a plea deal for his client — a marked departure from Corrine Brown, who was adamant in taking the case to trial.

In the post-trial strategy discussions, there still seems to be a wide divergence between the pragmatic Suarez and Brown, whose defense seems predicated on a cult of personality that effectively expired when Brown lost her primary to Al Lawson in August 2016.

Corrine Brown motions seek new trial, acquittal after fraud conviction

Is the Holy Spirit an external force? That concept is, improbably, what the appeal for a new trial of convicted former U.S. Congresswoman Corrine Brown is predicated upon.

Meanwhile, Brown’s lawyers also filed an acquittal motion late Thursday, contending that the government did not prove its case, as some One Door money went toward charity, and there was no hard evidence that Brown conspired to defraud donors.

New trial motion: Brown was convicted of 18 fraud and tax counts in May, and her lawyer made no secret of his intent to file for a new trial.

This motion is filed on unique grounds: the jury was corrupted because a juror was removed for deeply held religious convictions, and the Holy Spirit guiding someone does not disqualify that person from jury service.

On Thursday,  Brown filed her motion – and the Holy Spirit took a prominent role in the narrative, via the dismissed juror who some say was railroaded off the trial. And others maintain was just less than stable

“During deliberations, Juror 13 said the holy spirit had told him that Ms. Brown was not guilty. The Court found that the holy spirit was an external force, and dismissed the juror. After Juror 13 was dismissed, Ms. Brown was found guilty. The Court’s finding that the holy spirit is an external force is not supported by the record. There is a substantial possibility the holy spirit was actually the juror’s own mind or spirit1 telling him that one or more witnesses had not testified truthfully. Therefore, justice requires that Ms. Brown be granted a new trial,” the motion reads.

More on the juror: “Juror 13 told the Court that his religious beliefs were not interfering with his ability to decide the case based on the Court’s instructions and the evidence. A 37. He said he had followed the evidence, and that he was going to make a decision based on “what I think and believe.”

That included such as “guidance from Heaven.”

The motion takes Judge Timothy Corrigan to task also, for saying that religious mania/revelation is “disqualifying.”

“It’s not that the person is praying for guidance so that the person can be enlightened, it’s that the higher being — or the Holy Spirit is directing or telling the person what disposition of the charges should be made,” was how Corrigan summed up the construct.

The motion seems predicated on the assumption that this is a valid revelation, as if – somehow – this is to be taken at face value and not as evidence of mania.

“A juror’s reliance on a holy spirit bespeaks devotion to duty; not external influence,” the motion continues.

Brown’s defense asserts “that the Court’s determination that the holy spirit is an external force is not a credibility determination. The Court’s determination that the holy spirit is an external force is philosophical determination.”

In a career full of remarkable chutzpah, Brown’s latest gambit — invoking divine ordinance as a retroactive defense in a fraud trial where the government laid waste to her defense strategy — may not be great legal strategy.

But it is, as ever, incredible theater.

Acquittal motion: The defense contends that Brown was not found guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

“The government asserted that the defendant and her coconspirators knew that at the time of the solicitations they intended to use some of the funds for their personal use and expenses. The failure to disclose this fact to the donors, according to the government’s theory, amounted to wire fraud and mail fraud,” the acquittal motion asserts.

However, scholarship funds were, the defense contends, actually derived from these events.

Regarding the fraud of which Brown was convicted, the defense contends that no evidence was provided of conspiracy to defraud between Brown and One Door CEO Carla Wiley. Meanwhile, in the case of Brown and former chief of staff Ronnie Simmons, the defense makes an interesting claim.

“Simmons testified that his theft of One Door for Education funds was often done at the direction of the defendant but he was not able to provide any corroboration for this claim. What stands out the most about Mr. Simmons’ testimony are the statements he made that eviscerated the government’s theory concerning the defendant’s guilt,” the motion reads.

Those in the courtroom may have missed that evisceration.

“Simmons provided exculpatory evidence on behalf of the defendant,” the defense said, as he contended that at least some of the funds went for charitable purposes.

Meanwhile, the government only provided “circumstantial evidence” that money collected from One Door donors made its way to Corrine Brown.

That circumstantial evidence included bank statements and video evidence of people taking money from the One Door account and cashing it out or putting it into Brown’s account.

The defense contends “the government asked the jury to speculate about the defendant’s state of mind, and to make a number of inferential leaps that were not supported by logic or the law. The government presented a purely circumstantial evidence case.”

“While the defendant did have a professional and personal relationship with Mr. Simmons, and a very limited number of interactions with Ms. Wiley, merely associating with certain people and discussing common goals and interests does not establish proof of a conspiracy,” the motion says, undercutting the existence of a conspiracy to defraud.

Wiley and Simmons, the motion reads, conspired — with Brown the unwitting, aged dupe: “a person who doesn’t know about a conspiracy but happens to act in a way that advances some purpose of one doesn’t automatically become a conspirator.”

Brown’s acquittal on certain counts of mail fraud and wire fraud, the defense says, only further undercuts the case: “At worst the defendant was extremely careless and reckless with the handling of her personal finances and her obligations to ensure that her financial disclosure forms were accurately completed.”

“In conclusion, despite the number of witnesses called, and the number of exhibits introduced, there is no doubt about the fact that there was no direct evidence of criminal intent. The government’s case failed to deliver because it did not provide sufficient the proof of criminal intent.”

Al Lawson draws on Tallahassee base for first re-election fundraiser

With Jacksonville candidates mulling a challenge to Tallahassee Democrat Rep. Al Lawson in Florida’s 5th Congressional District, Lawson begins his fundraising in earnest June 1 with a fundraiser heavy on big names in the State Capital.

Among those names: State Reps. Ramon Alexander and Lorraine Ausley; FSU basketball coach Leonard Hamilton; State Sen. Bill Montford; and Allison Tant, the most recent former head of the Florida Democratic Party.

Lawson defeated scandal-plagued Corrine Brown, a longtime Jacksonville Congresswoman who was convicted of 18 counts of fraud-related charges earlier in May, in the 2016 Democratic Primary.

The margin of victory was in single-digits, a number abetted by Brown not being able to effectively run a re-election campaign (as Brown said in federal court, everyone who would have been an asset to that effort was sidelined by the federal investigation into “One Door for Education”).

Brown, who normally would have been expected to run up the vote in Jacksonville, barely broke 60 percent of the vote in Duval County, as Lawson scored roughly 20 percent and a third candidate scooped up the remainder.

The most compelling Jacksonville candidate associated with a potential run at Lawson in the Democratic primary: former Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown.

Alvin Brown has talked to donors already, attempting to rebuild bridges that were broken down during his shambolic re-election campaign in 2015, and has told Democratic elected officials that he intends to launch a campaign just as soon as Corrine Brown’s court case is out of the news.

It remains to be seen how much traction Alvin Brown can get with the Jacksonville donor class.

In 2016, Susie Wiles — an iconic Jacksonville Republican who helmed President Donald Trump‘s Florida campaign down the stretch — took initiative for Lawson, introducing the candidate to Jacksonville media.

Though Jacksonville Democrats may want the seat back, Lawson as an incumbent will have every possible institutional advantage, with support from lobbies and the national party should he need it.

Carla Wiley ‘One Door’ sentencing moved to Judge Timothy Corrigan

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.”

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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.

Conflict of interest clouds renaming of Corrine Brown regional transportation center

What is to be done when a city names a facility after a convicted former member of Congress? In the case of Gainesville and the Corrine Brown Regional Transit Facility, the answer — thus far — has been to do nothing.

The Associated Press reported that the Gainesville City Commission opted to defer action last week on the move.

That deferral gives the appearance of prudence and thoughtfulness, while offering an opportunity for a closer look at how the Congresswoman built relationships in Gainesville via what could be called “transactional money.”

One Gainesville City Commissioner has asserted he has no “conflict of interest” when it comes to a vote to rename the Corrine Brown Regional Transportation Center. However, there are 2,539 reasons to think otherwise.

Specifically: $2,539 spent between 2013 and 2015 by “Friends of Corrine Brown” at a clothing store owned by the wife of Gainesville City Commissioner Harvey Budd. The money supposedly was spent on clothes for Florida Gators football games; however, a number of the purchase dates were outside of Gator football season.

Gainesville City Commissioner Budd signed a Personal Guarantee on the lease for the business. Budd is also the treasurer, director, and VP of the company that collected thousands of dollars from Brown’s political donors, via the pass-through of her campaign account.

Budd has asserted that he has no conflict of interest in a potential vote on the renaming of the regional transportation center, despite a demonstrated pattern of “campaign materials” and “gifts for supporters” being bought by Corrine Brown from Ilene’s for Fashion.

Among notable items sold at Ilene’s for Fashion: Gators’ gear made from Swarovski crystals (an interesting campaign material) and other designer items that would seem to be high-markup gear with little to do with GOTV efforts and the like.

As Brown’s trial in Jacksonville showed, the Congresswoman liked to spend money at high-end stores. Though Gainesville transactions did not factor into testimony, what was clear was that she spent money in Gator Country, just as she did everywhere else.

Despite conviction, uncertainty swirls around Corrine Brown’s fate

The trial of former U.S. Congresswoman Corrine Brown wrapped earlier this month, with Brown going down on 18 counts.

Does that mean this all is a wrap, however? No.

Much of the reporting in the last week in the Jacksonville media brought forth ephemera from the case. That ephemera, ranging from accounts from jurors to stories from a witness not called to the stand, and Brown’s own testimony, suggests the grounds for a motion for a new trial – something Brown’s attorney suggested was happening minutes after the 18 guilty verdicts.

Worth noting: Brown, at least through the appeals process, will continue to draw her Congressional Pension, as Action News Jax’s Jenna Bourne reported last week.

“Final conviction,” after appeals have been exhausted, would be the necessary prerequisite for pension forfeiture.

In other words, this is still a live case.

And making it even more live – testimony from jurors, which suggests the jury process was not on the up and up.

News4Jax has reported that two jurors were “holdouts” against convicting Brown; one of those jurors, who asserted that the “holy spirit” gave him the 411, was discharged – and the other stayed on the jury, caved in to consensus, and then had second thoughts.

“At one point, Corrine was going to walk, and at another point, she is convicted of 18 counts, and that is all because of one person’s doing,” the juror said. “No, I don’t think that’s fair.”

Brown’s lawyer wants to interview the juror before a new trial motion.

Brown, for her part, has asserted that the trial was a “witch hunt” and that she had “serious concerns” about the jury and the criminal justice system, per the Florida Times-Union.

Meanwhile, one prosecution witness who ended up not being used also expressed concerns to Florida Politics last week.

Jacksonville City Councilman Reggie Gaffney’s theory: his narrative was inconsistent with the story the federal prosecutors wanted to tell … which is something they finally realized after two meetings with Gaffney, whose “Community Rehabilitation Center” and “CRC Transportation” were discussed at length during the trial.

Gaffney said his testimony was “consistent,” suggesting “that’s why they didn’t use me.”

Gaffney, whose for-profit CRC Transportation gave Brown money, described it as a “gift” to a friend — and said it was used for charitable purposes.

“I knew she was doing the right thing with my money,” Gaffney said. “I knew she was doing the right thing for the community … some of your constituents need things. I gave money as a friend.”

Gaffney didn’t think twice about giving Brown money years ago. He saw it as a way to “help the community.”

Gaffney also contended that, contrary to the assertions of those from other Jacksonville non-profits, Brown actually gave to his non-profit CRC during the period being investigated.

“Staff saw her bring stuff,” Gaffney said, and sometimes Brown would call CRC for a pick-up.

Was Gaffney scratched from the prosecution witness list because his narrative was inconsistent with the prosecution argument? Because his story would have added a wrinkle of nuance to a prosecution narrative that, by and large, went substantively unchallenged in cross-examination?

While we aren’t privy to motions to come this week or next, expect that perceived irregularities from May’s trial will drive the Corrine Brown narrative as the summer heats up.

And after Corrine Brown? The race to become the next Corrine Brown.

Word in the halls is that former Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown is waiting until Queen Corrine is out of the headlines before launching his Congressional bid.

Other Jacksonville Democrats — the kind who see Mayor Next Level as a 1000-watt smile and not much else — also mull their options.

The longer this goes, the more their window closes.

Gainesville considers renaming Corrine Brown transit center

Gainesville city leaders are considering removing the name of former U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown from a transit facility in the town following her conviction on federal fraud charges.

The Gainesville Sun reports that the Gainesville City Commission on Thursday considered whether to remove Brown’s name from a Regional Transit System facility, but decided to consider the move at a later meeting.

Brown, 70, was convicted by a federal jury of fraud and other charges for taking money from a purported charity for poor children called One Door for Education Foundation and using the money for parties and other personal expenses. She has not yet been sentenced.

Brown helped secure federal funding for Regional Transit Center in Gainesville, and the facility was named in her honor.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Reggie Gaffney tells why he didn’t testify in the Corrine Brown trial

Jacksonville City Councilman Reggie Gaffney was an eagerly-awaited prosecution witness in the trial of Corrine Brown.

Despite being on the witness list, Gaffney — a longtime friend and confidant of Brown — was not called to testify in the trial.

And FloridaPolitics.com has Gaffney’s exclusive take on why that is.

Gaffney’s theory: his narrative was inconsistent with the story the federal prosecutors wanted to tell … which is something they finally realized after two meetings with Gaffney, whose “Community Rehabilitation Center” and “CRC Transportation” were discussed at length during the trial.

Gaffney said his testimony was “consistent,” suggesting “that’s why they didn’t use me.”

Gaffney, whose CRC Transportation gave Brown money, described it as a “gift” to a friend — and said it was used for charitable purposes.

“I knew she was doing the right thing with my money,” Gaffney said. “I knew she was doing the right thing for the community … some of your constituents need things.”

“I gave money as a friend,” Gaffney said.

Gaffney, who said that Brown and “everybody called [him] with needs” ranging from bills to kids’ clothes, didn’t think twice about giving Brown money years ago.

He saw it as a way to “help the community.”

Gaffney also contended that, contrary to the assertions of those from other Jacksonville non-profits, Brown actually gave to his non-profit CRC during the period being investigated.

“Staff saw her bring stuff,” Gaffney said, and sometimes Brown would call CRC for a pick-up.

Was Gaffney scratched from the prosecution witness list because his narrative was inconsistent with the prosecution argument?

If so, expect that Gaffney’s testimony — along with that of jurors who claim the trial was rigged — will fuel the fire of those who claim that the trial was rigged against Corrine Brown.

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