State Rep. Tyrone Brooks Sr., D-Atlanta, was indicted Thursday by a federal grand jury for allegedly misappropriating almost $1 million in charitable funds, the U.S. Attorney’s office said.
The grand jury had been investigating the Georgia Association of Black Elected Officials’ finances. Brooks has served as the organization’s president. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported in February that several officials with the organization had been subpoenaed and been interviewed by the FBI.
When asked Thursday if he had broken the law, Brooks said, “Not to my knowledge. I don’t want to discuss it right now. I want to do it on the Moore’s Ford Bridge because that’s what this is all about.”
Brooks was referring to the 1946 lynching of two black couples at Moore’s Ford Bridge in Monroe. He and GABEO have supported re-enactments held at the bridge since 2004.
In February, Brooks said he believed the federal investigation was being stirred up by those angry of the attention he and GABEO were giving the unsolved murders.
U.S. Attorney Sally Yates told reporters Thursday that Brooks used contributions from Coca-Cola, Georgia Power, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and others to pay for home repairs, dry cleaning, entertainment, life insurance and other personal uses.
“This is a very disappointing day,” Yates said. She said Brooks “has been a powerful voice for change in our state, change that needed to happen.”
But Brooks’ good works, she added, “did not give him a license to steal.”
Yates said Brooks will be summoned to appear before a judge at an undetermined time.
“Mr. Brooks exploited two charitable organizations for his own personal financial gain which came at the expense of the intended beneficiaries of the charitable donations,” Veronica Hyman-Pillot, special agent in charge of IRS criminal investigation, said in a statement. “IRS Criminal Investigation is committed to investigating individuals who use charitable organizations for their personal gain.”
Brooks, 67, was charged in a 30-count indictment that includes charges of mail, wire and tax fraud. The indictment charges that, from the mid-1990s through 2012, Brooks solicited contributions from individuals and corporate donors to combat illiteracy and fund other charitable causes, but then used the money to pay personal expenses for himself and his family.
Brooks has said GABEO, founded in 1970, has more than 1,000 members.
Brooks has accused the FBI of investigating him because of his involvement in the Moore’s Ford Bridge re-enactments. The event is held each year in memory of the 1946 lynching of two black couples in Monroe.
Brooks and GABEO have supported the re-enactments, held since 2004, and both continue to lead efforts to bring the killers to justice. No one was ever charged in the killings.
Brooks said earlier this year he believes any federal investigation is being stirred up by those angry of the attention he and GABEO are giving the unsolved murders.
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