Trial against local candidate for Congress begins

NORFOLK, Va. - The trial against a candidate for Congress began on Tuesday.

Shaun Brown is running as an independent in the second congressional district. She's accused of stealing money from a program meant to provide meals to needy children during the summer.

Brown has repeatedly denied the allegations. In January, she told News 3 "[I'm] looking forward to my name being cleared."

The indictment says 58-year-old Brown worked with Virginia non-profit JOBS Community Outreach Development Corporation and reportedly stole from the USDA’s Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), a federally-funded program to feed children during the summer when free-lunch programs stop at the end of the school year, in 2011 and 2012.

Brown was responsible for running the SFSP for JOBS, and in 2012, Brown and others submitted fraudulent claims for reimbursement, according to the indictment. As part of the scheme, she would direct staff to inflate the numbers of children actually fed and falsify documents in order to obtain additional money.

Prosecutors also accuse her of lying about donating $700,000 to her campaign for Congress, but she's not facing charges related to that. Court documents say prosecutors plan to show she engaged in "dishonest behavior."

Outside of the court, supporters of Brown played a song in tribute. They say she's fought for them. "She is full of change. She is tenacious. She’s bold and standing for what is right and they want to silence her," Linda Wiggins said.

Brown is running against Democrat Elaine Luria and Republican Scott Taylor for Congress. Brown ran against Taylor as a Democrat in 2016, but lost by a wide margin.

Stay with News 3 for updates on the trial.