Ex-Corrine Brown chief of staff begins sentence at Maryland prison

Ronnie Simmons surrendered Monday to begin 4-year sentence

By Ashley Harding - Reporter, Eric Wallace - Senior Producer, I-TEAM

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Former U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown's former chief of staff, Ronnie Simmons, reported Monday to a federal prison in Maryland, where he will begin a four-year sentence for his role in a charity fraud scheme.

Simmons is the first of the three defendants in the One Door for Education scheme to begin serving time. His co-conspirators, former One Door founder and president Carla Wiley, plus Brown, will follow later this month.

Simmons' attorney, Anthony Suarez, said Simmons turned himself in at FCI Cumberland around 2 p.m., after sending Suarez his last will and testament, in case anything happens to him in prison.

Simmons already had a federal inmate number before he reported Monday. 

Suarez said he intends to keep in touch with Simmons and hopes Simmons will be able to take advantage of the programs offered in federal prison to rehabilitate himself and move forward with his life.

Since Simmons has been out on bond, he has been in trouble. Less than two weeks ago, Judge Timothy Corrigan changed the terms of Simmons' bond, and he was ordered to home confinement, mandating he wear a GPS monitor. This came after News4Jax obtained a photo of him in a Maryland courthouse. The pictures was taken just minutes after Simmons was given a peace order- that's similar to a restraining order--for threatening his ex-girlfriend inside the same courthouse.

Simmons' ex-girlfriend asked for the order, saying he threatened her because she was outspoken about him while this federal corruption case was being prosecuted. Simmons did cooperate with the government and testified against Brown. Prosecutors took that into consideration, and asked the judge for a three year prison sentence. But Judge Corrigan went above that, and imposed a four year sentence for his big role in the scheme. 

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