Former Democratic Rep. Corrine Brown of Florida sentenced to 5 years for fraud

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (Reuters) - Former U.S. Representative Corrine Brown of Florida was sentenced on Monday to five years in prison for her role in helping raise more than $800,000 for a bogus charity that was used as a slush fund, federal court officials said.

Brown, 71, was convicted in May on 18 counts of participating in a conspiracy involving a fraudulent education charity, concealing material facts required on financial disclosure forms and filing false tax returns.

Brown, a Democrat from Jacksonville who served 24 years in Congress, lost her re-election bid last year after being indicted.

SEE ALSO: Supreme Court ruling in McDonnell case sets Louisiana Congressman William Jefferson free

U.S. District Judge Timothy Corrigan said he considered Brown's years of public service in deciding her punishment. But he determined that "probation for a member of Congress convicted of 18 counts involving mail, wire, and tax fraud would not be sufficient," according to a transcript of his comments.

Brown maintains her innocence and will appeal, her lawyer, James Smith, told reporters outside the federal courthouse in Jacksonville on Monday. The former congresswoman declined to comment.

"I disagree with the idea that a woman who is 71 should have to go to prison for a nonviolent economic offense," Smith told reporters.

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Former Rep. Corrine Brown sentenced for fraud
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Former Rep. Corrine Brown sentenced for fraud
Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Fla. and Rep. Barbara-Rose Collins, D-Mich. during government opposition markup session, just before Government Accountability Office hearings on October 28, 1993. (Photo by Maureen Keating/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images)'n
UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 11: Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Fla., attends a news conference at the DNC where members of the Congressional Black Caucus PAC endorsed Hillary Clinton for president, February 11, 2016. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
ORLANDO, USA - JUNE 14: President Barack Obama arrives with Florida Senator Marco Rubio and Representative Corrine Brown to pay his respects for the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, USA on June 14, 2016. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
U.S. President Barack Obama shakes hands with Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown (L ) as U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown (R) watches after arriving in Jacksonville, Florida aboard Air Force One before he is scheduled to speak about the U.S. economy, July 25, 2013. REUTERS/Larry Downing (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS)
Florida congresswoman Corrine Brown speaks during a public rally to honor the memory of Trayvon Martin, at Fort Mellon Park in Sanford, Florida, U.S. March 22, 2012. REUTERS/Octavian Cantilli/File Photo
UNITED STATES - JANUARY 28: Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Fla., prepares to board a bus in the Rayburn horseshoe that will take House democrats to their retreat in Philadelphia, January 28, 2015. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 11: Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Fla., attends a news conference at the DNC where members of the Congressional Black Caucus PAC endorsed Hillary Clinton for president, February 11, 2016. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
House Speaker John Boehner presents the Congressional Gold Medal to William McDowell, representative of the Montford Point Marines, as Rep. Corrine Brown of Florida looks on, Wednesday, June 27, 2012, in Washington, D.C. House and Senate leaders awarded the medal to the Montford Point Marines, the first African-American Marines to serve in combat. Pictured in rear from left: Rep. Allen West of Florida Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), and Sen. Richard Burr, (R-N.C.) (Andre Chung/MCT via Getty Images)
Florida congresswoman Rep. Corrine Brown introduces U.S. House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi during a press conference, Monday, April 18, 2011, at the Claudia Allen Senior Center in Orlando, Florida. (Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel/MCT via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 25: Representative Corrine Brown(D-FL) speaks during the Stars For Trayvon: A Fundraiser at Shadowroom on April 25, 2012 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Kris Connor/Getty Images)
WINSTON-SALEM, NC - APRIL 18: Rep. Corrine Brown (D-FL) listens as Democratic presidential hopeful U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) speaks during a campaign rally at Wait Chapel on the Wake Forest University campus April 18, 2008 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. As the April 22, 2008 primary election date approaches for the Democratic candidates, Sen. Barack Obama, (D-IL) and Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) continue to make their points to voters.. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Congresswoman Corrine Brown, Danny Glover and Congresswoman Juanita Millender McDonald (Photo by Paul Morigi/WireImage for Niche Media, LLC)
UNITED STATES - OCTOBER 03: Rep. Corrine Brown, D-FL, (R), speaks out against action against Iraq at a Democrat anti-war press conference organized by Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-OH (L). (Photo By Chris Maddaloni/Roll Call/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 12: CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM--Corrine Brown, D-Fla., after a news conference at the House Triangle where she announced her support for the Shays-Meehan campaign finance reform bill. (Photo by Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JULY 11: HOUSE TRANSPORTATION MARKUP ON DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY LEGISLATION--Corrine Brown, D-Fla., during the Transportation Committee markup of legislation which would create a new Department of Homeland Security. The Committee approved amendments to keep the Coast Guard and Federal Emergency Management Agency separate from the proposed new department. (Photo by Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 12: CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM--Meredith McGehee, Common Cause senior vice president, Paul H. Turner, of The Greenlining Institute, and Corrine Brown, D-Fla., after a news conference at the House Triangle where Brown announced her support for the Shays-Meehan campaign finance reform bill. (Photo by Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 03: MOSELEY-BRAUN NOMINATION--Barbara Lee, D-Calif., Juanita Millender-McDonald, D-Calif., Corrine Brown, D-Fla., and Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., at the door of the office of Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Jesse Helms, R-N.C., after attempting a visit with Helms concerning former Senator Carol Moseley-Braun's nomination to be the ambassador to New Zealand. (Photo by Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images)
Florida Democrat Corrine Brown reacts in the Press Gallery in the U.S. Capitol December 17 after the Republican House leaders rescheduled the debate on President Clinton's Impeachment for December 18. The Democrats object that the debate overlaps with military strikes against Iraq. MMR/LJM/ME
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Smith said he also would argue on appeal that most of the evidence against Brown was circumstantial and that the judge improperly removed a juror in the case.

That juror told Corrigan that the Holy Spirit had informed him that Brown was not guilty, Jacksonville's WJXT-TV reported.

Prosecutors said Brown participated from 2012 to 2016 in a conspiracy and fraud scheme involving the One Door for Education fund, along with her chief of staff, Elias "Ronnie" Simmons, and the charity's president, Carla Wiley.

"Trial evidence also showed that more than $300,000 in One Door funds had been used to pay for events hosted by Brown or held in her honor," federal prosecutors said in a statement.

Simmons was sentenced to four years in prison and Wiley to 21 months, federal court officials said. None of the three were taken into custody after being sentenced.

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