Georgia state representative Tyrone Brooks pleaded not guilty to charges of mail fraud, wire fraud, and filing false tax returns on May 22, 2013 before federal Magistrate Judge Alan Baverman. Judge Baverman also set an unsecured bond of $25,000 and ordered Brooks to surrender his passport. Brooks must also limit his travel to the state of Georgia unless he receives prior permission from the court.
The indictment accuses Brooks of soliciting more than $1 million in contributions from the mid-1990s to 2012 to fight illiteracy in underserve communities and other causes. Most of these funds came from large corporations like Coca-Cola and Georgia power and were to be given to two organizations, Universal Humanities and the Georgia Association of Black Elected Officials. Prosecutors say Brooks, who was first elected to the General Assembly in 1981, used the money for personal and family expenses including home repairs and credit card bills.
Roy Barnes, former Governor and Brooks’ attorney, confirmed that a percentage of the charitable donations went to pay for “administrative costs” including Brooks’ expenses. Barnes declined to reveal what that percentage was.
According to the federal statutes in this case, the mail and wire fraud charges carry a maximum sentence of twenty years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. The tax charges carry a maximum sentence of three years and a fine of up to $100,000.