After a career of nearly 25 years in Congress, a federal judge sentenced former U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown of Florida to a prison sentence of five years, after a jury convicted the Democrat of fraud for using a charity for poor students as her personal expense account.
The 71-year-old Democratic Congresswoman became a politician in the 1980 and joined the House of representatives in 1993. At that time she was only one of the three African Americans elected to Congress from the Sunshine State.
According to prosecutors, Ms. Brown used the charity, set up for poor students as a personal slush fund in order to siphon some $800k to her personal accounts.
US District Judge Timothy Corrigan told Ms. Brown upon sentencing: “This is a sad day for everyone. I was impressed with all the outpouring of support for you, and I think it’s a tribute to all the work you’ve done over the years. That’s what makes this all the more tragic.”
When speaking to the press afterward, the judge commented: “This was a crime born out of entitlement and greed committed to ensuring a lifestyle that was beyond their means. Just think of the good that could have been done with that money if it would have been used for its intended purpose.”
Ms. Brown had raised the $800k for the “One Door for Education group” charity, and handed them $1,200 of it. She herself blew $300,000 on parties, box seats at a Beyoncé concert and pro football game and a golf tournament held in her honor.
The remainder of the money was used as a slush fund to repair her car and take vacations.
Ms. Brown’s lawyer, Mr. James Smith, said the former congresswoman was prepared for the possibility of a long sentence but still maintains her innocence: “This is a woman who has overcome a lot … and this won’t be the last thing she has to overcome.”