By Dan Evans
Florida Star Reporter
Day one, just hours after the final juror was seated and instructions given U.S. District Judge Timothy Corrigan walked into court room 10 D , acknowledged the presence of Prosecutor and Defense Attorneys, asked the bailiff to call the jury and asked for opening statements to begin for the trial of Representative Corrine Brown. Judge Corrigan reminded the jury the prosecution must prove its case against Rep. Brown.
Assistant U.S. Attorney A. Tysen Duva opened praising Rep Brown for over 24 years of service and explained the office come with the highest expectations and talked about the accomplishments of Rep. Brown as a “truly historic figure” and highlighted her slogan “CORRINE DELIVERS”. Duva told the jurors it will be shown that “lying, cheating, and stealing” became the method of operation for corruption using One Door for Education Amy Anderson Scholarship Foundation to violate the trust of one of the most powerful Florida Democrats.
Duva stated they will show Ronnie Simmons, Carla Wiley, and Rep Brown mislead donors, had a son and mother and girlfriend relationship that allowed for personal relationships of omission and commission of monies solicited from contributors, fraud (wire and mail), that Rep Brown made false statements on filing forms and tax fraud on improper IRS 1040 forms.
Duva also told the jury they did not promise Ronnie Simmons nor Carla Wiley anything for their statements in this case and their testimony against Rep. Brown. Both Ronnie Simmons and Carla Wiley entered a guilty plea and later changed to testify against Ms. Brown.
Defense Attorney James Smith opened with questions: who is Ronnie Simmons, what is the relationship with Carla Wiley, how much did Rep. Brown trust him personally and professionally. Rep. Brown relied on Mr. Simmons to preform duties of Chief of Staff and Manager of Operations. Performing these duties freed Rep. Brown to concentrate on congressional and community responsibilities. She put her faith and complete trust in Ronnie Simmons. Smith told the jurors they will show that Ronnie Simmons and Carla Wiley set-up the One Door for Education Amy Anderson Scholarship Foundation that led to the betrayal of Rep. Brown and. Part of that trust was violated with the hiring of Mr. Simmons ‘s sister. Smith informed jurors Rep.Brown was not a student of technology and that email, on line banking, text were tools of Mr. Simmons and Carla Wiley (Ms. Brown does not use email, she is from old school) One Door was the creation of Carla Wiley to honor her mother. Smith also stated Ronnie Simmons signed Rep Brown’s and Carla Wiley’s signature while handling travel arrangements, making bank and ATM deposits and withdrawals.
After opening statements the prosecution called two witnesses: A businessman that owns military houses. His testimony indicated he only donated because he believed in Rep. Brown and her work in the community. Evidence showed a trail of emails sent by Ronnie Simmons that resulted in a phone between Rep. Brown and Businessman John Picenne. The second witness was an FBI agent from the White-Collar Crime Squad assigned to investigate One Door for Education Amy Anderson Scholarship Foundation. FBI Special Agent Vanessa Stilly testified from documents that One Door was terminated and reinstated and may never had existed as a 501 c3 nonprofit. Agent Stelly drew testimony for documents and bank cameras presented by the Assistant U.S. Attorney Duva showing Simmons withdrawing and making deposits. Documents show Simmons and Wiley connected with the formation of One Door.
Court resumed Thursday with expected testimony from Susan Wiles, also on the list to be called are Councilman Reggie Gaffney, Stephen Bittel, Stanley Twiggs, Steve Pajcic, document is expected to be presented showing contributions to Churches and other charities.