Barnes: Lawmaker didn’t steal money
by Kate Brumback, Associated Press
May 23, 2013 02:55 PM | 2536 views | 7 7 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
In this Thursday, June 23, 2005 photo, Georgia state Rep. Tyrone Brooks, (D-Atlanta), speaks to reporters during a news conference in Savannah, Ga. United States Attorney Sally Yates announced Thursday, May 16, 2013 that a federal grand jury has indicted Brooks over allegations claiming he misappropriated more than $1 million in charitable funds. Brooks was charged Thursday with 30 counts of mail fraud, wire fraud and false tax returns. (AP Photo/Stephen Morton)
In this Thursday, June 23, 2005 photo, Georgia state Rep. Tyrone Brooks, (D-Atlanta), speaks to reporters during a news conference in Savannah, Ga. United States Attorney Sally Yates announced Thursday, May 16, 2013 that a federal grand jury has indicted Brooks over allegations claiming he misappropriated more than $1 million in charitable funds. Brooks was charged Thursday with 30 counts of mail fraud, wire fraud and false tax returns. (AP Photo/Stephen Morton)
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Georgia State Rep. Tyrone Brooks appeared alongside his attorney, former Georgia Governor Roy Barnes.(Fox 5 Atlanta)
Georgia State Rep. Tyrone Brooks appeared alongside his attorney, former Georgia Governor Roy Barnes.(Fox 5 Atlanta)
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Attorney and former Gov. Roy Barnes takes questions Thursday in Marietta.<br>The Associated Press
Attorney and former Gov. Roy Barnes takes questions Thursday in Marietta.
The Associated Press
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Kate Brumback

Associated Press Writer

MARIETTA — Georgia state Rep. Tyrone Brooks may not be a great bookkeeper, but he’s not a crook and broke no laws, former Georgia Gov. Roy Barnes said Thursday.

Barnes spoke at a news conference meant to address the charges in last week’s 30-count federal indictment against Brooks.

Barnes opened the news conference by talking about Georgia’s segregationist past and highlighted Brooks’ personal history working alongside leaders of the civil rights movement to fight for those without a voice.

“Tyrone has never stopped working to bring the American dream to those who thought it beyond their reach,” Barnes said. “His life is about serving, not about amassing great wealth.”

Brooks, holding his young grandson, stood next to Barnes during the news conference but didn’t speak.

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.

The 67-year-old Democrat faces charges of mail fraud, wire fraud and filing false tax returns. He pleaded not guilty to those charges before a federal magistrate judge Wednesday.

Brooks never took a salary from the charitable organizations he worked for, but he was paid for expenses and used that money to pay his bills, said Barnes, who’s representing Brooks for free.

“Bad bookkeeping, maybe, but not a crime,” Barnes said. “We have all seen politicians who have manipulated the system for their personal benefit, but that is apparently not a crime of substance, while a civil rights protester who is given money to pay expenses when he works full time in the struggle is a crime. I don’t think that is right.”

The government alleges that Brooks took money over a period of 20 years that would amount to about $40,000 or $50,000 a year, Barnes said. If he had been paid that much as a salary, the government surely wouldn’t have a problem with that, Barnes said. As for the allegations that Brooks filed fraudulent tax returns, Barnes said Brooks wasn’t required to pay taxes on money that was for expenses.

Barnes said he has great respect for U.S. Attorney Sally Yates but wished she had handled the matter differently.

“I think the broad discretion that a U.S. attorney has in deciding whether to prosecute should have been exercised in this case by allowing this dispute to be handled as a civil tax matter rather than a criminal case seeking incarceration of somebody who has given his life fighting for the rights of others.”
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Oliver G. Halle
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May 24, 2013
It never ceases to amaze me that those who love their guns talk about the sanctity of the Second Amendment and their constitutional rights. Somehow they overlook the other rights embedded in the Constitution when it doesn't suit their agenda. To those that attack Roy Barnes for representing Tyrone Brooks, perhaps they should review the Sixth Amendment and the right to have assistance of counsel. When the worst of criminals can be tried without due process, which includes having a lawyer, no one is safe from a runaway prosecutor or incompetent prosecution.

As for Brooks's case, I only know what has been reported. It would seem that the paper trail is going to hurt Brooks, that it will show all sorts of unaccounted monies, that there weren't any audits done over the years, and that much or most of the money wasn't spent for the purposes designated by the organizations. Note that there has been no rallying of public support for Brooks, which should suggest a lot. I point all this out to merely say that those who attack the lawyer for doing his job seem to have very little confidence in the government's case. Brooks deserves an honest and vigorous defense to present his side,and anyone disagreeing with that should take a hard look at what kind of America they want for themselves.
of course not
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May 24, 2013
Of course Brooks is not a crook! I have to say I started smiling when I heard that. Oh, it was just a little million dollar error, the only thing is, it wasn't Brooks money, was it?
Mike In Smyrna
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May 24, 2013
Why bring your young grandson to a news (circus) conference? Was Mr. Brooks babysitting?

yea right
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May 24, 2013
Barnes, you are just as crooked as he is. Pro bono my butt, Im sure you are getting something out of it.
1legup
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May 23, 2013
"I didn't have sex with that woman..." yea right
Philo in West Cobb G
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May 23, 2013
Another miscarriage of justice by Barnes, a lawyer scumbag who protects other scumbags. Was Dwight Brown's defense pro-bono or did this ambitious scumbag charge him? You know the answer, he made beaucoup money. Brown only stole from us but Brooks betrayed the public trust! Ban lawyers who are trained to lie, cheat, and steal from ever holding public office. Barnes and his ilk make me sick to my stomach!
Connie Mack Jr
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May 24, 2013
As ususal the local redneck Repubs sweep in and try to kill the lawyer defending a innocent person, forgetting that the Consitution says all persons are innocent until proven guilty.....Classic hypocrates are these idiots who attack themselves as the final authority on all legal matters that breeds tyrants like them..

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