Brooks entered the plea on his 30-count indictment before federal Magistrate Judge Alan Baverman.
Baverman set a $25,000 unsecured bond for Brooks and ordered him to surrender his passport and to limit his travel to the state of Georgia unless he receives prior permission from the court.
The indictment alleges Brooks solicited more than $1 million in contributions from the mid-1990s to 2012 to fight illiteracy in underserved communities and other causes. Prosecutors say Brooks, who was first elected to the General Assembly in 1981, used the money for personal and family expenses, ranging from home repairs to credit card bills.
Brooks’ lawyer, former Gov. Roy Barnes, told reporters before the hearing that they would have no comment on the case until a news conference at Barnes’ office Thursday.
Barnes told the judge that he is representing Brooks pro bono but said he may request help from a public defender if necessary because the case will require a considerable amount of work and because he has a busy trial schedule. Baverman said he wasn’t sure the law permits someone to have a lawyer appointed if one has been retained, even on a pro bono basis, and asked Barnes to submit a written motion on the matter.
Barnes also took issue with a condition of Brooks’ release that prohibits him from speaking to potential witnesses about the case. Some potential witnesses have volunteered to come to the Thursday news conference and others are people Brooks will inevitably run across, and they may try to speak to him about the case without him initiating that conversation, Barnes said. Baverman said that requirement is a fairly standard condition of release.