Corrine Brown agrees to federal plea deal for time served, admits filing fraudulent tax returns


Former U.S. Representative Corrine Brown (D), reached a plea deal today with a federal court that ensures the 75-year-old will not have to return to jail. Brown was convicted of multiple felony fraud charges in 2017 and sentenced to 5 years in prison for stealing money from her charity that was supposed to award scholarships to children and other charges. She was released from jail to home confinement in April 2020 over coronavirus fears and released from home confinement pending appeal in October of 2020.

Last year, an appeals court overturned her 2017 conviction and ordered a new trial on 18 criminal counts; the court said the judge had improperly removed a juror and replaced him with an alternate during her trial.

Brown had not previously admitted guilt to any of the charges, but today she pled guilty to one count of Interference with the Due Administration of the Internal Revenue Laws. That count has a maximum sentence of 3 years of imprisonment and a fine of up to $250,000 or both, plus a term of supervised release of up to one year. In pleading guilty, Brown acknowledged that not only did she try to evade the payment of taxes, she “did so corruptly.” The plea agreement specifies that “In this context, to act ‘corruptly’ means to act knowingly and dishonestly for a wrongful purpose.”

All other counts were dismissed as part of the agreement, and the agreed-upon sentence is time served, with no term of supervised release. However, she agreed to pay restitution of $62,650.99 to the IRS.

Specifically, Brown admitted to filing income tax returns for tax years 2008 to 2014 that did not include income she received in cash, and during that same period, she admitted to over-reporting her charitable giving, including asking non-profit entities to create letters that credited her with donations that she did not make.

Don't Miss a Post!

For example, in 2009, she reported $23,505 in gifts to charity, including $12,000 worth of furniture and other items to Edward Waters College. When she received a notification that she was being audited in 2010, she asked the college to generate a letter stating that she had donated furniture and accessories valued at $12,000 in 2008. The college provided her with the letter, but Edward Waters officials and witnesses later testified that she did not make that donation in 2008 and that the furniture and other items mentioned in the letter were already present at the college.

In 2010, she filed an income tax return that claimed a donation of $8,000 in items to the same college, which she now admits did not occur. Again, the college provided a letter to the IRS supporting the claimed donation.

In 2011, she failed to report cash deposits that were made into her bank accounts and reported a donation of $10,000 to Community Rehabilitation Center that was supported by a fraudulent letter from the charity. She also reported a fraudulent donation of $9,500 to Edward Waters in that year.

Her returns for the 2012-2014 tax years had similar problems with amounts donated to charities that were not supported by records. The plea agreement acknowledges that Brown “signed each referenced tax return under penalty of perjury.”

The City of Gainesville’s RTS Administration Building was named after Brown in 2014 because she helped get federal funds for the project. The RTS Advisory Board voted in December 2020 to ask the city commission to remove Brown’s name from the building, and the board sent the city commission a letter in February 2021, officially asking them to consider removing Brown’s name. The letter read, “The consensus of the board is that the name on the building distracts from the issue of public transportation in Gainesville and takes up valuable discussion time during advisory board meetings… We understand the commission has been reluctant to address this issue in the past, but please be aware that it is a persistent concern in the minds of many community members across the city.” However, the city commission has not acted on that recommendation, and Brown’s name remains on the building.