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Georgia civil rights leader charged with 30 counts of fraud

Tyrone Brooks was once a foot soldier for Martin Luther King and Jesse Jackson. Now he is a Georgia State Rep and the leader of the Georgia Association of Black Elected Officials. He also has a charity called Universal Humanities. According to the Federal government he has been stealing money from the two organizations he runs for over twenty years.

From New York Times…

In the state where the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was born and a legacy of lynching still informs politics, it is never easy to suggest that a leader of the civil rights movement might be a thief.

That is why Sally Yates, a United States attorney, stepped carefully last week when she brought a 54-page indictment against Tyrone Brooks, a state representative from Atlanta who got his start as a street soldier for Dr. King.

“This is a disappointing day,” her statement began. “Representative Brooks has done much good in his life, both as a state legislator and civil rights leader.”

She did not send United States marshals to arrest Mr. Brooks, 67. Instead, he was allowed to show up in court on his own this week when he pleaded not guilty to 30 counts of mail, wire and tax fraud.

In a scheme that the federal government says stretches back to the mid-1990s, Mr. Brooks is accused of using a fake charity and a secret bank account to siphon about a million dollars in donations from corporations like Coca-Cola, organizations like the Teamsters and individual donors.

With it, the government asserts, he paid for his cable television service, home repairs, dry cleaning, shoes and a host of other personal expenses, including cash gifts to his family.

The money was supposed to help support two organizations dedicated to furthering the cause of African-Americans.

The indictment says Mr. Brooks created a personal bank account to divert about $300,000 in donations to the Georgia Association of Black Elected Officials, of which he has been president since 1993. The money was supposed to finance voter registration drives, programs to fight child hunger and rehabilitate felons and other community efforts.

The government also claims Mr. Brooks used for his personal expenses nearly $800,000 that was donated to Universal Humanities, a charity he formed in 1990. Its purpose, at least on paper, was to help teach literacy and mentor the underprivileged.