I-TEAM: Inmates claim Corrine Brown getting special treatment

Current, former workers at Coleman facility say that's not true

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The News4Jax I-TEAM has obtained letters and emails from two inmates who claim Corrine Brown has received special treatment during the first two weeks of her five-year prison sentence.

Security officials inside the minimum-security prison camp that is part of the Coleman Federal Correctional Complex in Central Florida --- where the 71-year-old former Democratic congresswoman reported to Jan. 29 -- said she's treated like everyone else.

But according to inmates, Brown has been getting everything from massages to being able to wear wigs. 

"New mattress, kissing up all day and all night by both staff and residents ... and she got to keep a bunch of wigs," one inmate wrote.

The inmate added that the unit manager secured Brown a nice bed and even made the bed for her. 

Another inmate wrote a letter, which reads, "The day she came in administration made the girls go clean her a window room."

The letter goes on to say, "She had to have a brand new mattress. She has girls that are in prison at her beck and call. She says they are on her payroll. Where we got one chicken pattie for lunch she gets 2. The officers allows her to have massages every night."

That inmate also claims that Brown is allowed to wear "brand new high-top leather sneakers" that aren't even sold in the prison commissary. 

The inmate concludes, "I never thought I would see such unfairness."

The I-TEAM talked with current and former workers at  Coleman Federal Correctional Complex, who said they don't buy it. 

"I can guarantee those people at the Bureau of Prisons are professional people," said Richard Pari, a former lieutenant at the facility. 

Pari said he's talked to contacts at the correctional complex who said Brown is definitely not wearing a wig. 

"You showed me a list and I disagree wholeheartedly," Pari said. "The wigs did not happen. I had talked to a few different people working in the R and D, and, in my experience working in the prison, that's removed from you

He added, "She's provided a skull cap and that's what she wears."

Pari said he's certain a lot of the other complaints are bogus. That's also what the I-TEAM was told by Joe Rojas, who works at the Coleman facility and serves as head of the local prison workers' union. 

Rojas said other inmates often exaggerate what goes on behind bars. 

"All the other inmates, they're treating her nice, giving her candy bars," said Rojas, the president of the Council of Prison Local C-33. "But as far as we are, we can't do that, No. 1, because that's an ethics violations."

The I-TEAM was also told that the female wing of the facility is very safe, there's minimal violence, and inmates of Brown's age congregate with older inmates and seldom have problems with other inmates.

Brown -- who was convicted last summer of federal corruption, conspiracy, tax evasion and fraud -- was sentenced in December to five years in prison, three years of probation and to make restitution of $250 per month.

She is appealing her conviction as she serves her time, but if her conviction is not overturned, she'll likely serve 80 percent of her 60-month sentence, which follows federal guidelines. Most of that will be at Coleman with her final weeks at a different facility, where she would ultimately be released.

The Bureau of Prisons website lists Brown's release date as June 6, 2022.

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