Ex-US Rep Brown out of prison early amid virus concerns

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Former U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown, once a powerful Florida Democrat, has been released from federal prison over coronavirus concerns after serving just over two years of a five-year sentence for fraud and other crimes related to a purported charity for poor students that she used as a personal slush fund.

Brown, 73, left the central Florida facility recently, according to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons website. The BOP provided no other details.

Brown’s attorney, William Mallory Kent, asked a judge earlier this month to release Brown to protect her from the coronavirus pandemic, which has been spreading through the prison system. He withdrew the request the next day, saying she planned to refile a request for release with the BOP. Kent didn't immediately respond to messages from The Associated Press.

Court documents said Brown suffers from several ailments, including diabetes and high blood pressure.

Brown, who in 1992 became one of the first three African-Americans elected to Congress from Florida since Reconstruction, was convicted by a federal jury in May 2017 on 18 of the 22 charges against her. The charges included fraud and lying on her tax returns and congressional financial disclosures. She reported to prison in January 2018.

Brown represented a Florida district that included Jacksonville during her nearly 25-year career. Prosecutors said she siphoned money from the One Door for Education Foundation for personal use. They said the pattern of fraud by Brown and her top aide included using hundreds of thousands of dollars from the foundation for lavish parties, trips and shopping excursions.

Federal prosecutors said Brown, her chief of staff and One Door's executive director used the charity to bring in more than $800,000 between 2012 and 2016, through donations and events including a high-profile golf tournament at TPC Sawgrass. The Virginia-based One Door gave out only one scholarship, for $1,200, to an unidentified person in Florida, according to court documents.