Attorney says Tyrone Brooks not guilty of fraud - FOX 13 News

Attorney says Tyrone Brooks not guilty of fraud

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Georgia State Rep. Tyrone Brooks appeared alongside his attorney, former Georgia Governor Roy Barnes. Georgia State Rep. Tyrone Brooks appeared alongside his attorney, former Georgia Governor Roy Barnes.

Georgia State Rep. Tyrone Brooks appeared at a news conference regarding his recent arrest on fraud and tax charges Thursday, but he didn't speak.  Brooks' attorney, former Georgia Governor Roy Barnes, said Brooks is only guilty of bad accounting, and not the fraud charges that have been filed against him.

Brooks was arraigned in federal court on Wednesday. He's accused of stealing nearly $1 million from charities for his own personal use. He pleaded not guilty at his arraignment.

Barnes told the media the case against Brooks should have been handled as a civil tax matter and not a criminal case.  

"It is simply just not a crime. You have to have a specific intent to defraud and there is no specific intent to defraud," said Barnes.

He said he was surprised that the case was brought, and he has seen other cases involving millions of dollars with no criminal charges involved.

Barnes said Brooks is presumed innocent, and called statements by federal prosecutors "outlandish and untrue."  He said his client has not profited from his work for organizations, and has not committed a crime.  

"There is a difference between bad bookkeeping and trying to lock someone up for 20 years," Barnes said.   

Though he didn't speak on Thursday, Brooks has told FOX 5's Justin Gray he isn't surprised by the charges against him.

"I'm never surprised," Rep. Brooks said.  "I'm a civil rights worker all my life."

"We're going to explain why all this is happening, and the connection to the Moore's Ford lynchings," Brooks said, adding that there is no doubt in his mind it's connected.

The unsolved Moore's Ford Bridge lunching of two black couples in 1946 has been a long-time passion for Brooks.  But prosecutors say there's no excuse for allegedly pocketing $1 million from charity.  

"No one's good works give them license to steal, especially from the very people they claim to be helping," said U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates.

Outside Brooks' arraignment on Wednesday, NAACP representatives turned out for support.  

Much more will be revealed a Brooks' trial, which federal prosecutors expect could last about a month.

Former Governor Barnes has already challenged the makeup of the grand jury that returned the indictment against Representative Brooks. He contends that the government's pool of potential grand jurors under-represents African Americans and other minorities.

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