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One of Corrine Brown's co-conspirators now out of federal custody

Carla Wiley was founder of One Door for Education charity

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Carla Wiley, the founder of the bogus One Door for Education charity that became a slush fund for former Rep. Corrine Brown, is now out of federal custody, according to the Bureau of Prisons website.

Early in the One Door case, Wiley reached a plea agreement with prosecutors and agreed to testify at subsequent trials in the case. Wiley’s ex-boyfriend, Elias “Ronnie” Simmons, who was Brown’s chief of staff, was also charged and eventually pleaded guilty, as well. In part due to her early cooperation, Wiley received the shortest sentence in the case, 21 months in prison.

Wiley reported to a federal prison camp in West Virginia in January 2018, which would have meant she would get out in October of this year. Legal experts said federal prisoners typically only serve 85% of their sentences if they show good behavior and serve the final months of their sentences in a halfway house or on home confinement. The Bureau of Prisons website lists her release date as July 25.

According to her sentence, Wiley must still serve three years of supervised release, and, collectively with Brown and Simmons, owes $452,515.87 in restitution.

Wiley had founded the One Door charity in honor of her mother, intending for it to provide scholarships to students. Later, while on a boat with Simmons, an idea was formed to use the charity to pay for an event honoring Brown. During Brown’s trial, Wiley testified that more than $300,000 of the charity’s money was used to pay for events as well as a shopping trip to Beverly Hills.

The I-TEAM has also learned that Simmons, the former chief of staff, filed for bankruptcy days before he began serving a four-year federal prison sentence in January 2018. According to the court filing, Simmons had more than $468,000 in liabilities, including mortgages totaling more than $356,000 tied to his Maryland townhome, which the filing states is valued at $245,000.

The bankruptcy filing also states that Simmons was collecting $5,468 each month from his federal pension annuity, as well as withdrawals from his government Thrift Savings Plan retirement account. Although Simmons is a convicted felon, the I-TEAM has learned that government employees who retire generally cannot lose their pension unless they are convicted of certain crimes against the government, such as treason, espionage and crimes related to classified information – none of which apply to Simmons’ case. If he collects his full pension while in prison, he will have collected approximately $164,000 while in federal custody by the time of his release.

According to the Bureau of Prisons, Simmons, who is currently held at a federal prison in Maryland, is due to be released from custody in July 2020. Like Wiley, he will then serve a three-year term of supervised release and will owe $452,515.87 in restitution collectively with Brown and Wiley, plus an additional $91,621.38 in restitution to the U.S. House.

Brown, who is serving a five-year sentence at a federal prison in central Florida, is also currently collecting her federal pension while she appeals her conviction. However, once her appeals are exhausted, that source of income will end, due to a law prohibiting pensions for members of Congress convicted of corruption-related crimes. Brown’s appellate attorney appeared before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta in February, and a ruling on her appeal is still pending.

About the Authors:

Lynnsey Gardner is an Edward R. Murrow award-winning investigative reporter and fill-in anchor for The Local Station.