Mistrial declared in local congressional candidate’s fraud case

Posted at 9:59 AM, Aug 01, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-02 18:09:17-04

NORFOLK, Va. - A local candidate for Congress narrowly avoided a conviction Thursday when a judge ruled her case a mistrial.

The jury was stuck at 11-1 in favor of a conviction, but couldn't change the mind of a holdout after more than seven hours of deliberations, according to courtroom discussion and jurors.

While it's not an exoneration, Brown says she's considering the ruling a win. "I think anytime you go up against the full force of the U.S. government and win like we did today, it's a victory," she said. "This is a victory we're going to take into October and November."

"It takes 12 to convict, so it doesn't matter if it's 11-1 or 11-1 the other way. It takes twelve," said Jimmy Ellenson, her attorney.

Prosecutors say they plan to retry the case in the fall. "We look forward to retrying the case on October 9," said G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia.

Brown faces four federal charges and is accused of ripping off a program meant to feed needy children. She continues to maintain she's innocent.

During closing arguments, prosecutors made the argument that Brown profited by exploiting the program. She used the program to "feed her ego, feed her pocket book, and reward her friends," one of them said.

Ellenson said state officials who oversaw the program were aware of how she operated and approved it. Because of that, he said she didn't commit fraud and is innocent.

Brown is running as an independent candidate in the second congressional district in November's election. She has alleged the case against her is politically and racially motivated.

"It was always about the children and feeding the kids and making sure that we're following the rules and regulations," Brown said.