Atlanta City Council member Antonio Brown is facing a seven-count federal indictment accusing him of a series of alleged bad loans and credit card abuses.
Channel 2 investigative reporter Richard Belcher has learned that the charges may not affect Brown’s council job as he awaits trial.
The key to Brown’s remaining in office while he awaits trial is whether the charges relate to the performance or activities of the office he holds.
We do know all the alleged crimes took place well before Brown took office, some as far back as 2012.
Brown was sworn in last year after a surprising win in a special election to replace council member Ivory Lee Young, who had died in office.
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Brown signaled early on that he intended to be an outspoken voice for progressive causes such as affordable housing and police reform, and he has clashed with Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms.
In one recent council meeting, he accused Bottoms of spending too much on her national image. Now, he's got his own image problems.
The federal indictment returned Wednesday accuses Brown of attempting “to defraud several financial institutions by taking out loans and making credit card purchases — and then falsely claiming that he was the victim of identity theft and was not responsible for the charges or repaying the loans.”
In a news release, federal prosecutors say the alleged criminal activities go back as far as 2012 and include $60,000 in auto loans to purchase a Mercedes-Benz C300 and a Range Rover.
He is also accused of falsely claiming on a loan application that his salary one year was $325,000.
So, will the indictment affect Brown's seat on the council? We know the governor can appoint a committee to recommend whether to suspend a public official facing indictment, but the charges need to relate to the performance or activities of the office.
City Council President Felicia Moore issued a statement, saying: “A vacancy would only exist in the event of a resignation, conviction, or state-level suspension.”
Moore called it “a personal matter to be addressed by Mr. Brown.”
Brown’s attorney emailed Channel 2 Action News, saying: “Councilman Antonio Brown will enter an absolutely not guilty plea, and looks forward to his day in court to clear his good name.”
Cox Media Group