Corrine Brown – Page 5 – Florida Politics

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.”


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 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.

How religious mania changed the Corrine Brown jury

Speculation about what a discharged juror (“Juror 13”) said last week in a closed-court session in the trial of Corrine Brown can now end, as a transcript of the session was released Monday afternoon. [Transcript of Juror 13]

Juror 8, the juror who complained about the comments — relating that the discharged juror spoke of “higher beings” saying that Brown was guilty — kicked off proceedings in closed court by registering concerns.

The discharged juror had made such comments on the first day of deliberations and did not reiterate such comments, according to Juror 8.

However, “Some of the jurors are concerned that that’s affecting his — his decision,” Juror 8 said.

Federal prosecutor A. Tysen Duva was unmollified: “A higher being told me that Corrine Brown was not guilty on all charges and that he trusted the Holy Ghost. That does not resonate whatsoever with the court’s instructions to apply the law to the facts and make a decision,” he said regarding the juror’s mental state and ability to discern guilt from innocence in an evidentiary framework.

The discharged juror, for his part, didn’t reassure the feds.

“I told them that in all of this, in listening to all the information, taking it all down, I listen for the truth, and I know the truth when the truth is spoken. So I expressed that to them, and how I came to that conclusion …. I told — I told them that — that I prayed about this, I have looked at the information, and that I received information as to what I was told to do in relation to what I heard here today — or this past two weeks.”

The juror’s tipster? “My Father in Heaven.”

“My religious beliefs are going by the testimonies of people given here, which I believe that’s what we’re supposed to do, and then render a decision on those testimonies, and the evidence presented in the room,” the juror said.

Brown’s attorney attempted to defend this position: “I think the juror has simply said the Holy Spirit told him something. I think based upon what he said — however, he did say that he considered and has looked at the evidence that was presented, and did respond to the court’s questions concerning, first, his ability to follow the instructions given by Judge [James R.] Klindt during jury selection, whether or not there was any moral or religious belief that would prevent him from serving as a juror.”

Juror drama swirls in aftermath of Corrine Brown verdict

Could juror drama and input retroactively affect the verdict of the Corrine Brown trial after all? Could it play into a motion for a new trial?

With drama swirling relative to certain jurors, there is reason to wonder, with Brown’s lawyer voicing oral motions to interview jurors.

While the oral motions were denied, written motions were invited by Judge Timothy Corrigan.


There are three corporations that control television news in Jacksonville: First Coast News, Cox Media Group, and Graham Media.

They compete for viewership — and compete to be “first” among stories, including how outlets decided to skirt the order and break prohibitions on broadcasting from the courtroom. However, Monday saw these rivals present a united front regarding a matter from the trial of Corrine Brown, which wrapped last week.

Multiple Jacksonville TV stations filed motions over the weekend to unlock a controversial transcript of a bounced juror in the Corrine Brown trial, and to permit contact with discharged jurors – both conditions prohibited by Judge Corrigan.

In this case, the matter of the discharged juror is salient to what happened afterwards.

To recap: a juror expressed concerns about a certain juror discussing what was called “higher beings” in concordance with Corrine Brown, and after a closed emergency hearing Wednesday morning, the juror talking about the spiritual realm was removed.

A day later, Brown was found guilty of 18 of 22 counts, once an alternate replaced the spiked juror.

This sudden evolution in jury mood raised questions, and Judge Timothy Corrigan mulled them Monday, via motions from all three outlets that covered the same ground.

The motions note a lack of “compelling” reason to keep the transcript sealed, especially given that the trial is now concluded, and given that counsel has no objection to the transcript being open.

Corrigan noted, to the delight of media, that the transcript from the discharged juror will be open – leading to a media feeding frenzy once the hearing ends.

“It’s well-established that the media has interest in these matters,” Corrigan said, allowing the television media and the Florida Times-Union to move forward with its reportage.

The court, Corrigan added, lacks a “legal basis” to prohibit press contact with jurors, barring specific claims of harassment.

Less certain: Corrigan’s dispensation on releasing the jurors’ names.

An attorney for one of the media corporations contended that issues, such as jurors being threatened because of their verdict, don’t exist in this case; Corrigan contended that media seems to know who the jurors are.

As well, Corrigan noted that practice is to redact names and identifying information, potentially exposing jurors to scrutiny.

The motion, Corrigan said, will be taken under advisement.

“I’ll follow the law,” Corrigan said, regarding releasing them and the timeframe in which such release is made.


Meanwhile, a “compelling” reason to open the transcript – and to open up further inquiry into the jury – was offered by Brown’s attorney, James Smith, who suggested that the issues with the jury may come into play in his expected motion for a new trial.

Smith got an email from one of the jurors saying that the juror had “something that might help your appeal” on Saturday evening.

Smith brought it to the attention of the court, he said, as “this particular juror” was “crying” after a recess, which he and Corrine Brown noted.

“The juror reached out with some information,” Smith said, and he would like to talk to the juror and find out what was going on.

Prosecutor A. Tysen Duva said that at this point, the court should do nothing, given court rules barring testifying about jury deliberations afterwards, and given that this retroactive testimony could be “extraneous, prejudicial information” and likely would be inadmissible after the fact – an attempt to undermine an unpopular verdict.

“If we ever get to that point where the court permits such an interview,” Duva said, it would happen in open court.

“At this point, we don’t know what motivated the juror to reach out to Mr. Smith,” the prosecutor added.

Smith wanted to interview the juror nonetheless, as the juror reached out “after the events of previous jurors took place.”

Smith’s theory: the internal juror dynamics could be the issue … as could be “outside interference.”

“At least at a minimum, I should be able to have an interview,” Smith said.

Corrigan noted such exceptions are “rare,” with “well-stated grounds.”

“I am disinclined at the moment to think those legal grounds are present,” Corrigan said, inviting a written motion (“a more detailed brief with case law”) from Smith that could make the argument more salient.

Smith also pressed to allow Corrine Brown to talk to the media, which led Corrigan to note that any restrictions no longer exist.

“There is no legal restriction on you talking to the media,” Corrigan said to the former Congresswoman.


Beyond these issues, even more juror drama exists in this case.

FCN ran a leaked letter asserting that Brown’s attorney, James Smith, disputed the “higher beings” phrasing ascribed to the discharged juror, asserting rather that the juror claimed that “God” asserted Brown’s innocence to him, and that assertion was not contradicted by the evidence.

“Despite what you may have heard in the news reports he did not make any references to ‘higher beings,’” Smith wrote.

“He said that prior to the trial God had told him that the Congresswoman was not guilty and that after listening to the evidence and hearing closing arguments he still believed that she was not guilty,” Smith added.

“Despite the fact that there was no evidence that the juror was interfering with deliberations and stated that he was ultimately basing his vote on the evidence and the instructions, the judge decided to kick him off,” Smith was quoted as saying by FCN.

As Smith prepares a motion for a new trial, it will be interesting to see how all this juror drama plays in. He told us that this issue, and the court’s handling of it, merit closer investigation.

Drama is still swirling, in fact, regarding the discharged juror: a claim “on the news” that the discharged juror didn’t vote guilty “because the Holy Spirit told [him] so.”

This claim was made via text to a court officer, Judge Corrigan said.

Smith noted that the drama could speak to other issues, “providing the basis for some other post-trial motions I could file,” especially in light of “ambiguity” and the potential of outside influences.

If the original claim of the discharged juror’s religious mania is “not true,” Smith said, that raises other questions.

Corrigan countered that the dismissed juror admitted to making the statements that proved to change the entire narrative of the trial itself.

“The basis of the court’s decision to dismiss the juror ultimately is what the juror told me,” Corrigan added.

Corrigan, referring to the transcript, noted the juror’s alleged position that a “higher being” said that Brown was innocent on all charges.

“No, I said the Holy Spirit told me that,” the juror said, according to the transcript. “I mentioned that in the very beginning when we were on the first charge.”

Corrigan advised a written motion to firm up Smith’s argument to guide his decision.

“My decision now is to not do anything about this juror communication,” Corrigan said.

Corrine Brown trial coverage: GUILTY on 18 counts; motion for new trial pending

Former U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown faced myriad federal counts related to conspiracy to defraud via what prosecutors call a fake charity: “One Door for Education.” Those charges include conspiracy to commit and aiding and abetting wire and mail fraud, and multiple counts of fraudulent filing of federal tax returns. delivered deep-dive coverage of the entire trial: jury selectionopening statements; the government’s case, including exhibits and witnesses; the defense testimony, which mostly comprised of Corrine Brown on the stand; closing arguments; jury deliberation; the final verdict; and everything else that matters.


After deliberation started Monday and spilled over into Thursday afternoon, a jury returned a unanimous verdict in the case of former United States Congresswoman Corrine Brown.

With 22 complex counts, it was inevitable that deliberation would take hours, if not days. It took three full days for the jury to resolve the multiple issues related to tax fraud, wire fraud, mail fraud, and conspiracy in what was the political trial of the century in Northeast Florida.

Brown was found guilty on 18 total counts, which sets her up potentially for a prison sentence of over 300 years, and fines and restitution in the millions of dollars.

On Count 1 — conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud — the jury ruled that Brown was found guilty of mail and wire fraud both.

Counts 2 through 17 involved mail fraud and wire fraud. Counts 2 through 8 — mail fraud — come down to shipments of checks via FedEx; counts 9 through 17 — wire fraud — involve interstate wire transfers, emails, et al.

Graphics detailing these counts can be found below.

Counts 2 through 8 saw Ronnie Simmons and Carla Wiley at the other end of the mail solicited from donors, with the biggest pitch being for a check upward of $28,000 from a single donor.

The jury ruled that Brown was guilty on five of the seven counts: 2, 4, 6, 7, 8.

On Counts 3 and 5, Brown was not found guilty.

Counts 9 through 17 saw Simmons soliciting checks from donors on some, with some “pass-through” transactions reflected in some counts, through the Alexander Agency — the agency of former Brown part-time employee Von Alexander.

The jury ruled that Brown was guilty on seven of the nine counts: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 15, 17.

She escaped a guilty verdict on Counts 14 and 16.

On Count 19 — scheme to conceal material facts on Congressional financial disclosure forms — the jury ruled that Brown was guilty.

Count 20 — scheme to conceal material facts — was predicated on “underreporting income” and “bogus” charitable deductions. The jury ruled that Brown was guilty.

Counts 21 to 24: four tax counts. 21 is to “obstruct and impede the due administration of Internal Revenue laws”, with false tax returns from 2012 to 2014 constituting the final three tax counts. Brown was found guilty on all.

Brown will not be imprisoned immediately, Judge Timothy Corrigan said. A sentencing hearing will be months down the road.

Brown exited the courthouse before 3 p.m., looking shaken as she was walked to a black Mercedes, pushing through a phalanx of cameras and mikes like Moses parting the Red Sea.

But there were no miracles for Brown. Only a helicopter overhead and a half-dozen supporters yelling “We love you, Corrine, no matter what!”

Brown’s lawyer, James Smith, said this is just part 1 of the process. While Brown “respects the verdict,” he will file a motion for a new trial.

Smith wouldn’t comment on the jury or the venue — two potentially dispositive factors in this case.

And, with no light in his eyes whatsoever, the Orlando lawyer said that “it may seem like the end of the game, but it’s really the first quarter.”


Here’s what jurors considered:

By the numbers: The government claims that over $800,000 was raised from defrauded, duped donors. Of that, $330,000 of One Door money went to Corrine Brown events. And $141,000 of shady cash deposits coursed into her checking account from pass-through sources from 2009 to 2015.

Cash me outside: The government’s case is predicated on donor testimony, which boils down to Brown obliquely pitching the charity as a way to give to her, for reluctant Republican donors who wanted to give outside of normal campaign finance. They sought access; they got it.

But were donors actually defrauded? The defense has asserted that no promises were made saying that all donor money would go to scholarships for underprivileged children. And that Brown delivered on some charity — both directly and indirectly (via rainmaking) at these events.

Born to roll: With friends like Corrine Brown had, who needed enemies? Old staffers, ranging from former co-defendant and chief of staff Ronnie Simmons to former Jacksonville staffer Von Alexander, contend that Brown orchestrated cash deposits from One Door into her own account. Brown denies this.

Conspiracy theory: Brown’s take? They’re trying to destroy my life!” Brown contends that staffers handled her finances, and handled her taxes and the Congressional financial disclosure forms — thus giving her plausible deniability when it comes to not knowing why hundreds of thousands of dollars of shady pass-through money funded a lifestyle that often cost $10,000 more in a given month than Brown made.

Reasonable doubt: Can Brown convince one juror that she is not provably guilty? Can she do that on all 22 counts she faces? Brown’s defense has been predicated on the emotional appeal, with her saying, over and over again, that she would never have taken money from the scholarship fund for her own expenses. She’s pinned the blame on Ronnie Simmons. Will jurors buy it?


The counts:

Count 1: conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud.

Counts 2 through 17: mail fraud and wire fraud. Counts 2 through 8 — mail fraud — come down to shipments of checks via FedEx; counts 9 through 17 — wire fraud — involve interstate wire transfers, emails, et al. Graphics detailing these counts can be found at the bottom of this piece.

Counts 2 through 8 saw Ronnie Simmons and Carla Wiley at the other end of the mail solicited from donors, with the biggest pitch being for a check upward of $28,000 from a single donor; Counts 9 through 17 saw Simmons soliciting checks from donors on some, with a number of “pass-through” transactions reflected in some counts, through the Alexander Agency — the agency of former Brown part-time employee Von Alexander.

In the cases of Alexander and Simmons, the alleged co-conspirators have asserted they did their deeds at Brown’s behest, and they felt they “couldn’t say no” — thus constituting a conspiracy, in the government’s argument, with Brown atop.

Count 19: scheme to conceal material facts on Congressional financial disclosure forms — which failed to reflect Brown’s “extra income” from One Door and other pass-through sources.

Count 20: scheme to conceal material facts on tax forms — predicated on “underreporting income” and “bogus” charitable deductions to various Jacksonville nonprofits. The donation inflation was big: over $27,000 a year between 2009 and 2015 (off $6,600 a year of actual, provable charity).

Counts 21 to 24: four tax counts. 21 is to “obstruct and impede the due administration of Internal Revenue laws,” with false tax returns from 2012 to 2014 constituting the final three tax counts.


What’s next: Jury deliberation continues. 

Blake Dowling: Looking back …

Legislative Session is winding down – gaming, dope, infrastructure, assistive tech.

It has been an exciting journey, with losers and winners, fights, name calling at the Capitol and at the Governors Club.

Hopefully, when the dust settles, those in the trenches can regain some commonality and remember we are all on the same team as both Floridians and Americans (minus the UF-FSU rivalry, we will never be on the same team there).

Besides that, it’s time for summer. Time to move efforts to other things.

I work with a lot of associations and lobbyists, all running in high gear as of late.

Last night, a few website issues were needing immediate attention; that’s done.

Today, a conference room telecom gear is on the fritz (on the list for today); can’t send emails with a 1 TB attachment (no you can’t do that); my wireless network has 300 guests (yep, that’s bad); my laptop is in the pool (waterproof, no; backed up, yes).

It’s an endless list, but a pleasure to serve. Beats working for Corrine Brown.

From where I sit, I can see several interesting things on how the business of the day at the Capitol (and beyond) is carried out.

How did people get anything done in May 1845, during the first meeting of the Florida Legislative body?

I bet it was hot; lots of sweaty people with no AC. But it was also awesome.

We rely on technology so much, for better or for worse. Take it away, what do you have? Face to face interaction.

We as citizens of 2017 are faced with this every day, with friends, constituents and families. How many times this week have you said, I shot them a text or email? In the old days, it was face to face, think even pre-phone.

Few things are more powerful than the written word. I still send handwritten thank yous.

When I was 10, my dad gave me my first cardstock from Brooks Brothers. I was told to always say thanks to people when they do something for you. Message heard. I still do it, Pops.

(There is a great scene in the Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou about cardstock. If you missed it, it’s a must-watch.)

As we roll out of Session mode with families and colleagues, let’s put the phones down. Have lunch, a cocktail, no devices at the family dinner table. Am I right?

Let’s make Happy Hour great again, with some face-to-face time.

When we are old and gray, we will not remember texts and emails (unless you were a hacked DNC employee last year), but we will remember the time spent face-to-face with those in our personal and professional lives.

Let’s flash back to 1930 Florida.

Downtown Tallahassee 1930 – College Ave.

Florida was a mess. Unemployment was on the rise, tourism was plummeting (they needed a Pitbull concert, maybe).

Annual visits were down from 3 million a year to 1 million a year. Florida had its own economic collapse in 1926; another one in 1929 was merely par for the course.

War was looming, after supporting Hoover in 28’ Florida switched sides in 32’ and supported Roosevelt. The conservatives were nervous about his reform plans but needed change.

Meanwhile, in Ozark, Alabama, my family is hanging out in front of the house JD Holman (my grandfather) on the far right (just as he was with his politics) 1930. He referred to himself as a radical right winger. RIP JD.

Tourists weren’t coming; banks were closing.

Funny how with technology everything has changed. But the words don’t change.

Right, left, change, reform, etc

In 1930, they sweated it out, wrote letters, had runners, did not email 1TB worth of videos, they met face to face and talked the New Deal, the Depression, the Bankhead-Hone Farm Tenant Act. They talked a lot about aviation. At the time, Florida was the place for training: Drew and McDill bases in Tampa, Dale Mabry in Tallahassee (someone found WWII era undetonated ordinance from this station just last year), Eglin, Mayport in Jax.

Even the RAF moved into Arcadia at UM for training.

We could talk all day about then versus now, but on with the business at hand.

Put down those phones, give thanks to those who fought the good fight this legislative session, and thanks to those sweaty legislators who got us through the really rough times of World War II and the Depression – all without cell phones.

Here’s to all of those in public service, and all of those involved in The Process.

It’s great to be an American.

“In these days of difficulty, we Americans everywhere must and shall choose the path of social justice…, the path of faith, the path of hope, and the path of love toward our fellow man.”
― Franklin D. Roosevelt


Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies and can be reached at .


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