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Thursday, May 23, 2013 - 1:47pm

Barnes: Brooks’ Actions 'Not a Crime'

Former Georgia Governor Roy Barnes held a news conference at his law practice Tuesday afternoon in Marietta. In his address to the media, Barnes maintained that his client, Representative Tyrone Brooks is not guilty of anything but “bad bookkeeping.”

A grand jury indicted Brooks on 30 counts of fraud and tax charges last week. According to the indictment, the Atlanta Democrat allegedly took almost $1 million in donations and funds from Universal Humanities, a charity Brooks founded, and the Georgia Association of Black Elected Officials or GABEO.

Barnes said those organizations reimbursed Brooks for expenses he incurred on behalf of the groups, which the lawmaker then used to pay bills.

“It is simply just not a crime,” asserted Barnes. “You have to have a specific intent to defraud and there’s just no specific intent to defraud. If he’d wanted to defraud somebody, he would’ve created him a 2 or 3 hundred thousand dollar salary and paid expenses on top of that. This is just crazy. I just don’t understand it.”

The former Governor said any allegations of misconduct should have been handled in civil court, rather than through a criminal indictment.

“There is a difference between bad bookkeeping or expenses and trying to lock somebody up for 20 years,” said Barnes.

Brooks stood by his lawyer during the news conference, but did not speak.

“That’s the reason he’s got a lawyer. He’s got an unpaid mouthpiece,” Barnes joked.

People who support Brooks said they still stand by him, despite the charges.

“I think it’s a waste of taxpayer’s money,” said A. Reginald Eaves about the indictment. “I hope he’s vindicated.”

Brooks pleaded not guilty to the charges.