Local candidate for Congress faces questioning during federal trial

Posted at 5:54 PM, Jul 31, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-01 18:15:28-04

NORFOLK, Va. - Shaun Brown took the stand in her own defense for a second day and faced questioning from prosecutors during her ongoing federal trial.

Brown faces four federal charges and is accused of ripping off a program meant to feed needy children by inflating the number of children she fed. Tuesday marked the fifth day of her trial. The jury is expected to begin deliberations on Wednesday.

On the stand, Brown continued to maintain her innocence and accused several of the people who testified against her of lying. "When people are under pressure, people might say or do anything," she said of the government's witnesses. In one case, a person working for Brown reported feeding more than 4,000 children in one day, prosecutors said. Brown said he was upset she didn't go into business with him.

Brown says state officials, who oversaw the federally-funded program, were aware of how she operated and says in reality she reported fewer meals than she actually served.

Prosecutors also asked her about where she lives. Brown's attorney has said she lives with her mom in Hampton and doesn't have health insurance in an effort to prove she didn't enrich herself through the program. On the stand on Tuesday, Brown said she lived in Virginia Beach in 2016 and 2017 during her first run for Congress in the second congressional district. She also said she has a judgment worth $25 million, but hasn't been able to get any money from it.  She called herself "cash poor," but says she has assets, including the judgment, that she wants to use to invest in the community. She didn't elaborate on her assets.

Outside of the courthouse, Brown had just a few comments about her grilling on the stand. "I thought it went well," she said. "I would love to say more, but my attorney Jim Ellenson would have a fit."

Brown is running as an independent candidate in November's election. She has alleged the case against her is politically and racially motivated. During cross examination, prosecutors asked her about her campaign websites and social media posts, including one that says she's being "crucified," but Brown said her campaign staff wrote it, not her.