JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The attorney for former Rep. Corrine Brown has formally filed an appeal arguing why a Supreme Court ruling from June 2017 applies to Brown's case and the hundreds of thousands of dollars she has been ordered to pay back following her conviction in the One Door for Education scheme.
Brown, 71, was convicted of 18 federal crimes in May 2017, including conspiracy, fraud and tax evasion. The following December, she and her co-conspirators, Ronnie Simmons and Carla Wiley, were each given prison sentences and ordered to collectively forfeit $654,292.39. Each defendant was potentially responsible for forfeiting the full amount. Additionally, Brown and Simmons were ordered to forfeit another $10,000, collectively.
The brief that attorney William Kent filed Thursday with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit argues how the Supreme Court's ruling in Honeycutt vs. United States applies to Brown's case. In the 8-0 ruling in Honeycutt, the nation's highest court ruled that in conspiracy cases, defendants could not be held jointly and severally liable in a forfeiture order. That means a court must determine how much each defendant is financially responsible for based on his or her role in the conspiracy.
In July, Kent asked the court for permission to file this brief, arguing that the Honeycutt ruling wasn't considered at the time of Brown's sentencing, even though it should have been, having come out nearly seven months prior. In the filing, he wrote that the court's error affects Brown's rights and "would seriously affect the fairness, integrity or public reputation of judicial proceedings if not corrected." A judge later granted Kent's request.
In his argument, Kent also references an appeals court ruling from last month in which judges applied the Honeycutt ruling and sent a case back to a federal court in Virginia for a new determination of the amount of forfeiture. Kent asked the appeals court to do the same in Brown's case.
Once prosecutors receive a copy of Kent's brief, they have 30 days to file their brief on the matter. Brown's attorney will then have another 14 days to file his reply.
The appeal of the forfeiture ruling comes as Brown is asking the court to throw out her conviction, based on the decision to dismiss a juror during Brown's federal trial who said he believed the Holy Spirit had spoken to him during prayer, saying Brown was not guilty.
In January, Brown began serving a five-year sentence at a minimum-security prison camp in Central Florida.