JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) - Facing nearly two dozen federal fraud and conspiracy charges, former U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown of Florida took the stand in her own defense. She said she was kept in the dark while her ex-chief of staff siphoned thousands of dollars from what prosecutors say was a sham charity.
Brown said Thursday that she was betrayed by Elias "Ronnie" Simmons, her former top aide.
Brown said tearfully that she "loved Ronnie Simmons like a son" and that she never wanted to see him end up in jail.
Federal prosecutors want Brown to go to jail for a scheme to raise more than $800,000 for One Door for Education Foundation under the guise that the money would go to help poor kids with scholarships. Prosecutors say the charity gave only $1,200 out in scholarships while Brown, Simmons and foundation president Carla Wiley spent funds to maintain their lavish lifestyles.
Brown claims Simmons stole money and placed it in her bank accounts without her knowledge.