Florida Congresswoman Indicted on Corruption Charges, Officials Say

WASHINGTON (Tribune Washington Bureau/TNS) —

U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Fla., has been indicted on public corruption charges and is expected to be arraigned in federal court in Jacksonville, Fla., on Friday, two U.S. law-enforcement officials said Thursday.

The charges are related to Brown’s involvement with an unregistered charity in Virginia.

The officials, citing grand-jury secrecy rules because the indictment remains sealed, declined to provide the exact nature of the charges.

In March, the U.S. House Committee on Ethics said that it had opened an investigation of Brown, just weeks after the director of a charity with ties to her pleaded guilty to fraud and agreed to cooperate with federal prosecutors.

However, the committee deferred its probe at the request of the Department of Justice, which was still investigating the charity, called One Door for Education Inc. Tom Rust, chief counsel for the House Committee on Ethics, said Thursday that the committee had no comment.

Authorities say One Door’s director, Carla Wiley, presented her organization as an education charity starting in 2011 but never obtained tax-exempt status or filed state or federal tax returns, even as it solicited about $800,000 in donations.

Between 2012 and 2016, as Wiley withdrew or transferred to her own accounts more than $140,000, the group issued just one scholarship for about $1,000, authorities said.

While documents in Wiley’s case didn’t mention Brown by name, prosecutors alleged that $150,000 in charity funds had been used for events hosted by or in the honor of an unnamed public official, dubbed “Person A.”

Several details in Wiley’s plea suggested Person A is Brown.

For example, prosecutors said Person A hosted a July 2013 golf tournament at TPC Sawgrass to benefit One Door. Records show Brown hosted a tournament for the group’s benefit that month at the same Jacksonville-area golf course.

During a news conference days after the ethics probe was announced, Brown proclaimed she was “clean” of wrongdoing but would not discuss the case’s specifics. Her office did not respond to requests for comment Thursday.

Brown’s district stretches from Jacksonville south to Orlando, but a court-ordered redrawing has turned it into an east-west district from Jacksonville to Tallahassee for the election this year.

Brown initially challenged the new district in court but recently dropped that case, and she is running for re-election in the reconfigured district.

She faces LaShonda “L.J.” Holloway and Al Lawson in the Aug. 30 Democratic primary, with the winner taking on Republican Glo Smith in November.

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