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Former Democratic congresswoman convicted of fraud for using charity as 'personal slush fund

Former Florida Democratic Rep. Corrine Brown, 70, was convicted of 18 counts of federal fraud and corruption charges in Jacksonville, Florida. ( Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

A Florida jury found former Democratic Rep. Corrine Brown guilty on 18 counts of federal fraud and corruption charges.

Brown, who served 12 terms from 1993 to 2016 in the House of Representatives, pleaded not guilty in July to 24 money-related charges. Federal prosecutors at the time said Brown used the charity she founded, One Door for Education Foundation Inc., as a "personal slush fund."

“Congresswoman Brown and her chief of staff are alleged to have used the congresswoman’s official position to solicit over $800,000 in donations to a supposed charitable organization, only to use that organization as a personal slush fund,” Assistant U.S. Attorney General Leslie Caldwell said.

WTLV-TV in Jacksonville, Florida, reported that Brown, 70, used the charity to solicit more than $830,000 in donations from 2012-2015. Donors were led to believe that the money would be used to help poor and minority students obtain an education. Instead, the "charity" paid out just $1,200 in scholarships.

According to WJXT-TV, Brown used at least $300,000 to pay for lavish receptions, box seats at sporting events and concerts, and trips for her and her aides.

The jury also convicted Brown of lying on her federal income taxes, WTLV-TV reported.

Brown insisted during the trial that while her taxes contained "a lot of sloppy bookkeeping," she never intentionally provided false information.

“It was a mistake on my part and I needed to get on top of my taxes,” Brown said.

Assistant U.S. Attorney A. Tysen Duva referred to Brown's actions as a "significant entitlement attitude."

"That’s what this case is about. It’s about lying, cheating and stealing. It’s about fraud and corruption of the member of the highest level of the American government," Duva said, according to WTLV-TV.

Brown's sentencing date has yet to be set, WTLV-TV reported. Her attorney said he would file motions for a new trial.

(H/T: Politico)

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