ATLANTA — A federal judge on Thursday ordered a civil rights activist and former Georgia lawmaker to pay $250,000 in restitution to charitable donors he's accused of deliberately defrauding.
U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg ordered former state Rep. Tyrone Brooks to make the payment, WGCL-TV reported (http://bit.ly/1KsNqUj). The Atlanta Democrat pleaded guilty in April to one count of filing a false tax document and no contest to five counts of mail and wire fraud.
Totenberg in November sentenced Brooks to serve a year and a day in prison. His prison term is to be followed by two years of supervised release plus 250 hours of community service.
Court records show that the U.S. Marshals Service last month instructed Brooks to report to the federal penitentiary in Atlanta on Feb. 16.
Prosecutors alleged that Brooks solicited about $1 million in contributions from the mid-1990s to 2012 from individuals and corporate donors, saying the money would be used to fight illiteracy in poor communities and for other specific causes. The contributions were made to the Georgia Association of Black Elected Officials, which he had led since 1994, and to Universal Humanities, a tax-exempt organization he founded in 1990.
Prosecutors said Brooks used the money for personal expenses, such as utility bills, cable payments, dry cleaning bills, clothing and restaurant meals, and there was no evidence it was used for the specific projects outlined in his solicitation letters.
Brooks had been a civil rights activist since his teens and a state lawmaker since 1981. As a lawmaker, Brooks was best known for his nearly two-decade struggle to remove the Confederate battle emblem from Georgia's state flag, which saw success in 2001. He also prodded federal authorities to reopen an investigation into an infamous 1946 lynching of four people at Moore's Ford in Walton County.
Prosecutors acknowledged Brooks' good works but said he used the accumulated goodwill to carry out fraudulent schemes.