Chief of staff for former congresswoman pleads guilty

- Former U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown's longtime chief of staff has pleaded guilty to charges related to what prosecutors have called a phony charity turned into a personal slush fund.

The Florida Times-Union reports that 51-year-old Elias "Ronnie" Simmons pleaded guilty Wednesday to fraud conspiracy and theft. He had faced 18 counts in a July indictment.

Brown was charged at the same time. She has pleaded not guilty, and her trial is scheduled for April.

The charges followed an investigation into the purported charity One Door for Education. Federal prosecutors say it was billed as a way to give scholarships to poor students but instead filled the coffers of Brown and her associates.

Brown left office in January after losing the Democratic primary last year.

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Information from: The (Jacksonville) Florida Times-Union, http://www.jacksonville.com

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