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The Latest: 2 tales: Lawmaker was either corrupt or betrayed

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — The Latest on the federal fraud trial against former U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown (all times local):

3 p.m.

Former U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown was either an entitled, corrupt politician who used a charity for poor kids to line her pockets or a befuddled, aging lawmaker whose trusted adviser betrayed her.

The competing portraits of the 70-year-old lawmaker were outlined Wednesday by federal prosecutors and the defense during opening statements in Brown’s federal fraud and conspiracy trial in Jacksonville.

Assistant U.S. Attorney A. Tysen Duva said Brown and her staff systematically funneled money from the One Door For Education Foundation charity to the congresswoman’s personal bank accounts. He says One Door raised more than $800,000 in donations and only gave out one $1,200 scholarship.

Brown has pleaded not guilty to the charges. Her attorney James Smith says she was duped by her former chief of staff, Elias “Ronnie” Simmons.

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10:00 a.m.

Former U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown’s federal fraud and corruption trial is scheduled to begin in Jacksonville.

Prosecutors say the 70-year-old Brown and members of her staff used a charity meant to give scholarships to poor students as a personal slush fund. She was indicted last year, and later lost her re-election bid.

Brown has pleaded not guilty to the charges, saying she is being persecuted. Opening arguments were scheduled for Wednesday afternoon.

Federal investigators say her One Door for Education Foundation raised $800,000 in donations, but only awarded one scholarship for $1,200.

According to the indictment, Brown and others spent the money on personal items including the use of luxury boxes for a Beyoncé concert and an NFL game.

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