By Frederick H. Lowe
Corrine Brown, who walked into history books with her 1992 election to Congress from Florida and left in shame 40 years later after being convicted of tax fraud and an arms’ length list of other crimes, was released early from prison Wednesday because of coronavirus.
Brown, 73, had been scheduled to remain in prison until March 2022. She had been serving a five-year sentence after having been sentenced to prison in 2017.
Her release came after Brown withdrew her request for a compassionate release in early April because of the coronavirus.
In 1992, Brown defeated Republican Don Weidner and was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. That year, Brown, Alcee Hastings and Carrie Meek, were the first three African Americans elected to congress from Florida since Reconstruction from 1865 to 1877. She had been a member of the Congressional Black Caucus.
A federal jury convicted Brown, who represented Florida’s 5th Congressional District from 1973 to 2017 and the state’s 3rd Congressional District 1993 to 2013, convicted of 18 of 20 felonies, including mail fraud, tax fraud, filing false tax returns and conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud.
A jury found Brown guilty for her role in the “Open Door for Education for Education,” a non-profit, that claimed to provide scholarships for low-income students.
Open Door raised more than $800,000 but most of the money went into the pockets of Brown and her former chief of staff to pay for their lavish lifestyles. Only three scholarships were ever awarded.
Brown was defeated for re-election 2016 in the Democratic primary by Al Lawson, a state representative.
The Fifth District includes portions of Duval, Clay, Putnam, Alachua, Marion, Lake, Seminole and Orange counties.