A federal grand jury has indicted state Rep. Tyrone Brooks over allegations claiming he misappropriated more than $1 million in charitable funds.
Brooks, a Democrat from Atlanta, was charged Thursday with 30 counts of mail fraud, wire fraud and false tax returns. The allegations involve Brooks' relationship with Universal Humanities, a charity he founded in 1990, and the Georgia Association of Black Elected Officials.
The indictment alleges the 67-year-old repeatedly solicited contributions from individuals and corporate donors to combat illiteracy and other causes, but then used the money for personal expenses.
When reached by phone, Brooks told The Associated Press that he was "not speaking about anything until I talk to my lawyer." Brooks was first elected to the General Assembly in 1981.
“Needless to say we’re all disturbed by this latest development, said Elaine Lucas, vice president of the GABEO. “Rep. Tyrone Brooks is a dedicated public servant and a friend to the underserved over this entire country. He’s done so much good, it is hard to believe these allegations and we all should wait until they are proven or disproved. A person is innocent until proven guilty. Tyrone Brooks has earned our respect and support. GABEO members are sad to hear these of allegations and we will withhold further comment. Representative Tyrone Brooks is still our President.”
When a sitting member of the state legislature is indicted, the Georgia Constitution calls for the Governor to appoint a three-person panel to consider suspending the lawmaker.
“The panel decides,” said Brian Robinson, spokesman for Gov. Nathan Deal. “They issue a recommendation to the governor and the wording suggests that the panel’s recommendation stands.”
Robinson said the governor has to wait 14 days to appoint the committee from the time when he receives the indictment, and he has yet to receive it. He said the panel will consist of the state attorney general and two legislators of Deal’s choosing.