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Corrine Brown says legal problems have been 'hell'

Congresswoman denies knowing woman who plead guilty to fraud

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – As the I-TEAM obtains more details of the federal investigation surrounding U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown, she said Friday that she's sick it.

The Jacksonville congresswoman was in Jacksonville addressing a convention of disabled veterans. Afterward, she spoke on a number of issues but did not say much about her legal problems, only saying that the past few months have been hell for her.

“Everybody says, 'Congresswoman, we are praying for you.' And I appreciate the prayers. But this has been a very difficult time for me,” Brown said.

Brown, who was served with a subpoena in January, is under investigation by the U.S. Justice Department and a House ethics subcommittee.

A federal grand jury in Jacksonville is meeting every week. Prosecutors said the investigation began looking into a Virginia charity accused in a scheme to defraud donors out of $800,000. Although Brown's photo appeared on the One Door for Education's website -- shown with the organization's director, Carla Wiley, and Brown in the same picture -- and Brown was to host a golf fundraiser for the charity, the congresswoman denied Friday knowing Wiley.

"Who? I don't know who that is," Brown said. "Don't discuss local gossip with me."

Wiley has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and is cooperating with investigators while awaiting sentencing. She has agreed that she funneled money to a public official identified in the indictment as "Person A." Previous I-TEAM reports have laid out why that official is likely Brown.

A U.S. House ethics subcommittee formed earlier this year to investigate Brown has voted to defer its work at the request of the Justice Department. The panel was charged with looking into allegations that Brown may have improperly solicited charitable donations, used campaign money for personal use and failed to comply with tax laws.

Brown has also filed suit to overturn the redrawing of her 5th Congressional District. She said she plans to run for a 12th term despite the district now stretching from Jacksonville along the Florida-Georgia border to west of Tallahassee.

The panel was charged with looking into allegations that Brown may have improperly solicited charitable donations, used campaign money for personal use and failed to comply with tax laws.

Brown also talked Friday about the Eureka Gardens investigation and the problems the I-TEAM has uncovered at the federally subsidized housing complex. She said she has been addressing those problems for months with the Department of Housing and Urban Development in Jacksonville.

 


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