A federal grand jury has indicted Georgia state Rep. Tyrone Brooks Sr. on 30 counts including mail, wire and tax fraud charges.
Brooks, 67, is accused of soliciting contributions from individual and corporate donors to combat illiteracy, but then used the money to pay for personal expenses for himself and his family.
Channel 2 investigative reporter Mark Winne informed Brooks of the indictment. When asked if he broke the law, Brooks told Winne, “Not to my knowledge. I don’t want to discuss it right now. I want to discuss it on the Moore’s Ford Bridge. That’s what this is all about.”
Brooks has maintained the investigation is backlash into his investigation into the lynching of two African-American couples on the Walton County bridge in 1946. He claims an FBI cover up because there were never any arrests.
This has been a long time coming. These charges first surfaced awhile back. Now that he has been indicted, feel free to speculate on what this means for GABEO, one of the organizations he is alleged to have stolen from, and for Brooks himself. He shows no inclination to resign, but eventually it won’t be his decision.
The FBI press release is here, and goes into detail about the alleged scheme, selections after the jump…
Essentially the indictment (which I haven’t yet read, but will when it is available) states three schemes, one defrauding GABEO and its donors:
In December 1997, Brooks secretly opened a second GABEO bank account at a different bank. Brooks set himself up as the sole signatory on this account and had the account statements sent to his address rather than the address of the GABEO treasurer. Brooks then deposited the donations he solicited on behalf of GABEO into this undisclosed account, and used much of these funds to pay personal expenses for himself and his relatives.
Between 2002 and 2012, businesses, civic, religious groups, and individuals contributed approximately $300,000 to GABEO through Brooks, which he then deposited into the undisclosed GABEO account.
two, defrauding donors to his allegedly fake charity, Universal Humanities, Inc:
From at least 1995 through 2012, Brooks solicited contributions for Universal Humanities from corporate and individual donors purportedly to combat illiteracy in disadvantaged communities in Georgia and across the southeastern United States, eventually raising more than $780,000. Donors included the Coca-Cola Company ($400,000), Georgia Pacific Company ($140,000), Northside Hospital ($240,000), and others who gave smaller amounts. Brooks made specific false representations in his written solicitations about the work that Universal Humanities was doing to combat illiteracy and how the donated funds would be used, claiming that Universal Humanities had established literacy programs and was conducting workshops and tutoring and mentoring students. He also falsely claimed that Universal Humanities utilized a staff and operated under the direction of a board of directors.
The indictment alleges that in reality, Brooks did not use the donations to promote and address literacy in Georgia or elsewhere, or to retain a staff, occupy office space, fund workshops, hire instructors, or conduct programs attended by students. Instead, Brooks used the money to pay personal expenses for himself and members of his family, including home repairs, furniture, lawn service, life insurance, entertainment, personal credit card expenses, utility bills, food and clothing, dry cleaning, electronic equipment, jewelry, and payments on personal loans, among other personal expenses.
Brooks generally accomplished the diversion of funds by depositing the solicited donations into a bank account he established in the name of Universal Humanities, then almost immediately transferring the funds to a personal account, from which he paid personal expenses. At times, Brooks paid personal expenses directly from the Universal Humanities account.
And the third, most boring scheme was that he didn’t put any of this on his tax return or pay taxes on the falsely appropriated money.