Atlanta City Councilman Antonio Brown has been indicted on federal fraud charges for allegedly lying on several bank loan applications and attempting to claim identity theft to escape paying credit card charges.
What We Know:
- On Wednesday, July 29, the Fulton County Grand Jury charged Brown with wire fraud, mail fraud, bank fraud, and making false statements on a bank loan application.
- The investigation is being performed by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Social Security Administration Office of Inspector General, and the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation Division. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Thomas J. Krepp and Jeffrey W. Davis, Chief of the Public Corruption and Special Matters Section, are prosecuting the case.
- The U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Northern District of Georgia released a press release announcing the charges on July 29. In it, U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak claims that beginning in 2012, Brown opened numerous credit cards which he used to make personal purchases worth thousands of dollars. Brown, allegedly, also got a car loan of over $60,000 to finance purchases of a Mercedes C300 and a Range Rover.
- The U.S. Attorney claims Brown falsely claimed identity theft in attempt to get out of paying back the money from the loans and credit cards. Additionally, Brown gave false information to Signature Bank in an application for a $75,000 loan. Providing them incorrect income information in regards to earnings and assets, he allegedly knew the information to be false due to other loan applications he submitted to other banks claiming far less income.
- Postal Inspector in Charge of the Atlanta Division, Tommy D. Coke, stated, “This investigation is another example of the power of partnerships in combating financial fraud and identity theft. Postal Inspectors are dedicated to pursuing individuals who seek to defraud for their own financial gain.”
- The Inspector General of Social Security, Gail S. Ennis, made a statement saying, “We are committed to working with our Federal law enforcement partners to aggressively pursue those who falsely claim their identity was stolen in an attempt to defraud financial institutions,” and followed up by thanking the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and IRS Criminal Investigation for their efforts, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for bringing on the charges.
- Brown is the first sitting councilman to be indicted since D.L. “Buddy” Fowlkes was charged with federal bribery and income tax evasion charges in 1993.
- Antonio Brown, the first Black, openly LGBTQ+ person ever elected to the Atlanta City Council, won his councilman position in a special runoff election in 2019 after the District 3 seat was vacated when Councilman Ivory Lee Young died of cancer.
- On Thursday, Brown told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he does not plan to resign his council seat.
- City Council President Felicia Moore issued a statement saying,
“As the public has been made aware, Council member Antonio Brown has recently been indicted by the U.S. Department of Justice on multiple charges unrelated to his service on the Atlanta City Council. At this time, no vacancy on Council exists as a result of this occurrence. A vacancy would only exist in the event of a resignation, conviction, or state-level suspension. Per the U.S. Attorney’s Office, please be reminded that the indictment only contains charges and the defendant is presumed innocent until otherwise proven at trial. This is a personal matter to be addressed by Mr.Brown as he undergoes due process of the law.”
- Brown’s lawyer, Thomas D. Bever, a former federal prosecutor, told CBS46, “He will be entering a not guilty plea, and looks forward to his day in court to clear his name”.
- Members of the District 3 community, which include Vine City, English Avenue, and Atlantic Station neighborhoods, are not being quick to judge the councilman. Many community members called The Rashad Richey Morning Show to express their support for the councilman.
As noted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Brown is believed to be innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. The burden falls on the government to prove their claims are true, beyond reasonable doubt.