Politics

Corrine Brown Asks for Mercy at Sentencing Hearing

Judge calls case a ‘complicated stew’

Former U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown walks to the federal courthouse in Jacksonville, Florida, during her trial on federal fraud and tax charges in May. She’ll learn her fate when a judge announces her sentence next month. (Bob Self/The Florida Times-Union via AP file photo)

Hoping to avoid prison, former Florida Rep. Corrine Brownasked for mercy during her sentencing hearing Thursday.

Brown also asked that U.S. District Judge Timothy Corrigan consider her years of public service, the Florida Times-Union reported.

“I am 71 years old. I just had a birthday,” she said. “I humbly ask for your mercy and compassion.”

Brown was found guilty of conspiracy involving a bogus charity used as a personal slush fund, concealing income on financial filings and filing false tax returns in May.

The disgraced former Democratic congresswoman previously tried delaying her sentencing hearing, citing health reasons and being displaced because of Hurricane Irma.

Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas provided testimony via telephone for Brown, calling her “a loving person,” First Coast News reported.

Jackson Lee also said Brown was loved by the military veterans community and had assisted after Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.

“That shows a character of giving to others unselfishly,” Jackson Lee said of Brown.

[Murkowski Tax Vote Contingent on Stabilizing the Individual Market]

Brown’s attorney James Smith said she helped remove racial barriers and recalled a conversation with a woman who compared Brown to Martin Luther King Jr.

“She truly is a legend,” he said.

But because Brown refused to admit guilt, prosecutors said that she should face between five and nine years in prison.

“She ran for office to be a leader of American democracy while she stole money in a multitude of ways,” Assistant U.S. Attorney A. Tysen Duva said.

Duva also cited Brown saying the government targeted her as a black woman and her suggestion that the Justice Department could have used the energy it spent prosecuting her to stop the mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub last year in Orlando.

“I wonder if any of her character witnesses will address this. Why will you support someone who says this nonsense,” Duva said.

Smith responded by saying Brown regretted her comments about the shooting and while there is no evidence Brown was targeted for her race, women her age remember a time when black women were targeted.

Corrigan is set to sentence Brown on Dec. 4. During the hearing, Corrigan said he would try to give Brown a fair sentence.

“Ironically, when judges impose sentence, our job is not to be judgmental. Our job is to be an instrument of the law and reflect the mores and values … that we agree to,” he said. “And that is a very complicated stew.”

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.