The head of a purported charity with close ties to Florida U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown pleaded guilty Friday in a federal fraud investigation.
One Door for Education Foundation Inc. President Carla Wiley pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and agreed to testify in the larger ongoing case, according to a plea agreement filed Friday in federal court in Jacksonville.
Court filings show Wiley opened a checking account for Leesburg, Virginia-based One Door in 2012 and deposited $800,000 over the next four years.
Over that time, federal prosecutors say it gave one scholarship for $1,000 and that Wiley transferred herself tens of thousands of dollars, including $16,000 for making payments on two vehicles registered in her name. The money was also used to fund lavish parties, an NFL luxury box and other extravagances in Washington, according to the plea agreement.
The court papers also say the funds were used to benefit two people identified only as Person A and Person B.
Documents obtained by The Associated Press on Friday in a public records request to the office of Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer correspond to some allegations in the federal court documents that “Person A” is Brown.
Dyer’s office received an invitation to a July 13, 2013 golf tournament called the “Corrine Brown Invitational” that was sponsored by the One Door organization and coincided with a freight and rail industry symposium in Jacksonville. The invitation bore the seal of the House of Representatives in one corner.
Potential donors attending the tournament received letters from One Door with Brown’s signature and official House seal asking them to give from $125 up to $20,000 to One Door, according to Wiley’s plea agreement.
The invitation said the donations would benefit a scholarship fund for the Jacksonville chapter of the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials, or COMTO, and other charities. Authorities say none of the charities received any of the money raised.
“Although numerous donors wrote checks to One Door in connection with the golf event, no money was raised for (the trade group’s) Jacksonville Chapter scholarship fund or any other nonprofit,” according to Wiley’s plea agreement.
Other documents sent to the Orlando mayor’s office included events involving Brown that coincided with President Barack Obama’s 2013 inauguration. For a $150 payment to One Door, the guests were told, they would get to attend several activities with Brown including a seafood brunch, a Potomac River cruise and a guided tour of the Martin Luther King monument in addition to an inauguration watch party.
Wiley’s plea agreement also says One Door funds were used to pay for lavish parties in Washington in “Person A’s honor,” and that $40,000 was spent on luxury boxes at a concert and NFL game.
Wiley faces a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Federal officials say One Door was not registered in either Virginia or Florida to receive charitable donations.
Brown’s spokesman David Simon said he could not immediately locate her for comment. A message left for Wiley was not returned, and her attorney Justin Fairfax did not return an email of phone message seeking comment.