State Rep. Tyrone Brooks made his first court appearance Wednesday where he pleaded not guilty to charges that he stole contributions from two charities he oversaw.
The U.S. Attorney’s office said Brooks swindled Universal Humanities and the Georgia Association of Black Elected Officials for nearly $1 million.
The longtime Georgia lawmaker, now 67, is being accused of soliciting contributions from individual and corporate donors in order to end illiteracy, but allegedly used the money to purchase items on behalf of himself and his family.
U.S. Attorney Sally Yates told reporters last week 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.
Brooks was indicted by a federal grand jury last week on 30 counts, which include mail, wire and tax fraud charges.
Former Gov. Roy Barnes is representing Brooks, and is said to be doing so pro bono.
Brooks was released by a judge on a $25,000 unsecured bond after being indicted last week.
Members of the Georgia NAACP rallied outside the courthouse to support Brooks as he made his not guilty plea, insisting that the money and resources used to indict him should be used to solve a series of unsolved racially-motivated cold case murders dating back 60 years.