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Corrine Brown confident as trial nears

Former congresswoman's trial on 22 corruption charges begins Monday

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Three days before jury selection begins on federal corruption charges against Corrine Brown, prosecutors released a detailed list of the exhibits they plan to use in the case against her, and the former congresswoman reacted in an interview with the I-TEAM.

In a 49-page document filed Friday with the U.S. District Court, prosecutors listed hundreds of exhibits they will show the jury to prove Brown's guilt, including dozens of deposits into her account totaling about $70,000 from a questionable Virginia charity.

"Those are the prosecutor's figures, those are not my figures," Brown said Friday in an extensive interview in WJXT's studio. "I don't know where they get their figures from, so, basically, we'll just see. I'm confident that we have our information together and I'm ready to roll."

WATCH: Extended interview with Corrine Brown

Brown, who represented parts of Northeast Florida in Washington for 24 years, has called the Department of Justice investigation into her activities in a witch hunt. She stands by that as she prepares to face a jury that will hear the 22 charges against her and could find her guilty of crimes that could send her to prison for 350 years.

"If someone killed an entire community, they wouldn't get 350 years," Brown said. "I know if my attorney was here he would not want me to talk about it. The point I just want to make is this is a part of the criminal-justice system, and so many people come up to me and say, "They going to give you 30 years vs. 300 years if you don't plead out.' There is something wrong with that system."

The government also said this week it planned to seize her assets if she is convicted.

"What assets? You tell me which ones. My house? My old cars? Come on," Brown said.

She is so convinced that she will be acquitted that she has not prepared herself for the prospect of going to prison, although she did say she had sought the help of therapists due to the stress of the case.

"I've had to have counseling and medication during this time period," Brown said. "You know who your friends are, and I still have some friends."

One of those friends, Bruce Marks, flew from Boston to be with her as she prepares for the trial. He is also on the defense witness list.

Marks runs the national nonprofit mortgage counseling agency Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America. Brown worked with NACA to help underwater homeowners during the housing crisis. 

"It's so insulting that, here you have what the Justice Department is doing and not one bank executive has gone to prison, not one has been indicted. And even if you look at the savings-and-loan scandal out there. At least they investigated the bankers," Marks said. "Then they're doing all this to the most effective person in Congress when it comes to representing working people in this mortgage crisis."

Marks said he read the entire indictment containing what the government claims Brown has done and nothing caused him any concern about his support. He believes it was Brown's former chief of staff, Ronnie Simmons, who was indicted on most of the same charges facing Brown. Simmons agreed to plead guilty and will testify against Brown.

"He has been with Corrine for 30 years, and he is not a stand-up person," Marks said.

Prosecutors are also trying to call Brown's daughter, Shantrel Brown, to the stand, alleging she also received money from the questionable charity. The daughter has notified the court that she plans to cite her Fifth Amendment right not to testify.

"My attorney says that will not happen, so we'll just see," Brown said.

Brown continues to insist that she will testify.

"I'm not supposed to say, right, but I will. No one can tell my story like I can."

The jury will be made up of 12 men and women from a pool of 39 people from across northeast Florida, many whom never lived in Brown's congressional district. That doesn't worry her.

"I think it will be hard to find someone who don't know who Corrine Brown is. Now, that doesn't mean they like her or not like her, but I just think everybody knows who she is," Brown said. "I hope, as Martin Luther King Jr. said, you get people that want to be educated to the facts, and I'm confident the facts will set me free."

When asked what her demeanor will be like in court, she said, "I'm going to be Corrine Brown."

Brown, who is known for speaking her mind, said this was the last time the public would her from her for a while since the judge has ordered anyone involved in the case to make public remarks during the trial.

"I'm here today to say goodbye. We won't be talking," Brown said.


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