Ex-chief of staff to testify in lawmaker’s fraud trial

Author: AP

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) Former U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown’s ex-chief of staff is scheduled to testify at her fraud trial about what federal prosecutors say was a wide-ranging scheme to use hundreds of thousands in donations to a purported charity for lavish parties, trips and other personal uses.

Elias “Ronnie” Simmons is scheduled to take the stand Wednesday in federal court in Jacksonville, Florida. Simmons has pleaded guilty to related charges.

The 70-year-old Brown has pleaded not guilty, and her attorney has argued Simmons was the mastermind and took advantage of the aging lawmaker.

Federal investigators say Brown’s One Door for Education Foundation, billed as a way to give scholarships to poor students, raised more than $800,000, but only gave out one $1,200 scholarship.

Prosecutors say the money was instead used for Brown and her associates’ lavish lifestyles.

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