Chief of staff to former U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown pleads guilty
February 8, 2017
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) -- Former U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown's longtime chief of staff has pleaded guilty to charges related to what prosecutors have called a phony charity turned into a personal slush fund.
The Florida Times-Union reports that 51-year-old Elias "Ronnie" Simmons pleaded guilty Wednesday to fraud conspiracy and theft. He had faced 18 counts in a July indictment.
Brown was charged at the same time. She has pleaded not guilty, and her trial is scheduled for April.
The charges followed an investigation into the purported charity One Door for Education. Federal prosecutors say it was billed as a way to give scholarships to poor students but instead filled the coffers of Brown and her associates.
Brown left office in January after losing the Democratic primary last year.
July 30, 2016
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) -- The trial of U.S Rep. Corrine Brown on fraud charges is being delayed.
U.S. Magistrate Judge James Klindt on Friday agreed to delay the trial of both Brown and her chief of staff until October.
Brown and Elias "Ronnie" Simmons have pleaded not guilty to multiple fraud charges and other federal offenses. The charges stem from an investigation into what prosecutors call a phony charity turned into a personal slush fund.
Lawyers for Brown asked for the delay. They said they needed additional time to prepare for the trial and review the evidence that prosecutors are using for the upcoming trial.
Brown has represented a Jacksonville-based congressional district since 1993. She was one of the first three African-Americans elected to Congress from Florida since Reconstruction. Despite the charges Brown is running for re-election.