Charity Head Says She Gave Brown Blank Checks

Prosecutors say Brown filed false tax returns

Former Florida Democratic Rep. Corrine Brown was convicted on 18 counts including fraud and tax evasion. (AP file photo)
Former Florida Democratic Rep. Corrine Brown was convicted on 18 counts including fraud and tax evasion. (AP file photo)
Posted May 2, 2017 at 11:34am

The trial for former Florida Rep. Corrine Browncontinued on Monday with testimony that she was provided with blank checks from the charity she’s accused of using as a personal slush fund.

 

Prosecutors interviewed Von Alexander, a former staffer for Brown, who said that she deposited thousands of dollars into the bank accounts of Brown and Brown’s daughter using blank checks that Brown gave her from One Door for Education, the sham charity organization. 

 

Siottis Jackson, a political consultant, also said that Alexander asked him to deposit a $2,100 check into Brown’s account, according to the Florida Times-Union.

 

Prosecutors also interviewed Robby Birnbaum, an attorney, who had given $5,000 to sponsor a golf tournament for One Door for Education and that Brown’s request was a major reason for the donation.

 

Jurors also heard Dawn Wright, an accountant, read through years of Brown’s tax returns that listed her only income as her congressional one and a pension from having served in the Florida Legislature as prosecutors tried to prove the accusation that Brown filed false tax returns.

Carla Wiley, the woman who founded One Door, testified that Ronnie Simmons, Brown’s former chief of staff, approached her in 2012 because Simmons said Brown needed a nonprofit to host a reception honoring her. Wiley said he agreed and set up a bank account in the group’s name and gave Simmons the bank card and checkbook.

Under cross-examination, Wiley said she also began withdrawing money from the account and spent it on herself.

Both Simmons and Wiley agreed to testify against Brown in a plea-bargain deal with prosecutors.

Prosecutors claimed Brown falsified charitable donations to get a bigger tax break and didn’t disclose income she received from the sham charity.