JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Former U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown on Wednesday pleaded guilty to one count of tax fraud in her federal case, admitting that she lied to the IRS about her income and about deductions she had claimed.
Brown, 75, had been convicted before in 2017 of 18 counts in the charity fraud case and served more than two years of her five-year sentence in prison before her release on humanitarian grounds due to the coronavirus pandemic and its potential harm on older incarcerated people.
Brown has been receiving her pension and will continue to do so in the coming years even after pleading guilty to a tax crime. Here’s why.
After Corrine Brown was convicted, News4JAX reported that she could continue to receive her pension while she appealed her conviction. Once it was thrown out, she continued to receive it while awaiting a new trial, which had been scheduled for the fall of 2022.
A report from the Congressional Research Service details what would cause a member of Congress to lose their pension.
Part of it involves the Hiss Act, which deals with national security offenses that don’t apply in this case. The other part of it is the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act, passed in 2007 and amended in 2012. That lays out various public corruption, election law, and misconduct in office crimes that could result in losing a pension, in the event of a final felony conviction for actions related to an individual’s official duties.
Brown’s tax conviction is not on that list of crimes so that law doesn’t apply.
Some of the other fraud charges she had faced do appear to have been included in this list, so had she been convicted again on those charges, she could have lost her pension.
However, News4Jax has learned that in order for a member of Congress to lose their pension for a felony conviction, the crime must be related to their congressional actions.
Looking at the Congressional Research Service report, it says this:
“This forfeiture will apply to such misconduct if “[e]very act or omission of the individual that is needed to satisfy the elements of the offense directly relates to the performance of the individual’s official duties as a Member, the President, the Vice President, or an elected official of a State or local government.”
It’s not clear exactly how much money Brown receives from her pension.
As part of a plea deal, the other 17 counts against Brown were dropped, and she was sentenced to 32 months of time served and was ordered to pay restitution of $62,650 to the IRS. She also waives the right to seek a refund of the $31,062.06 that was collected from her and lawfully disbursed to victims other than the federal government, while the appeal was pending.
Brown’s plea agreement gave details of Brown’s actions related to her tax returns, which were the basis of the criminal charge -- corrupt endeavor to obstruct & impede the due process of the Internal Revenue laws. Prosecutors said that for the 2008 to 2014 tax years, Brown didn’t report income associated with cash deposits into her bank account.
During that same period, prosecutors said Brown over-reported her charitable giving, by inflating the value of gifts to charitable organizations and nonprofits. Prosecutors said that also included letters Brown asked two of the non-profits to create for her use during an IRS audit. The letters did not accurately reflect the donations.