George on Georgia – Federal Indictment Halts Rising Star of Progressive Politics – Decaturish

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Atlanta, Georgia – A federal grand jury has handed over an indictment against Atlanta City Councilor Antonio Brown, accusing him of several counts of bank fraud on Wednesday.

The accusations come as Brown’s profile had risen in Atlanta politics.

Brown allegedly “took loans and made credit card purchases – then falsely claimed he was a victim of identity theft and was not responsible for the charges or the repayment of the loans,” a declaration of the US District Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia said.

“Beginning in 2012, Antonio Brown opened a number of credit cards, which he then used to make purchases for thousands of dollars for his personal benefit,” the statement said. “Brown also obtained over $ 60,000 in auto loans to finance the purchase of a Mercedes C300 and a Range Rover. Despite the opening and use of these credit cards and despite taking the money for the two auto loans, Brown allegedly falsely claimed that his identity had been stolen and that someone else had made the purchases by credit card or had taken out these loans.

Brown said Wednesday night he was not offering any comment to the media other than saying he was “not guilty.”

The charges stem from activities prior to his election to public office, coinciding with his career as a fashion designer.

Antonio Brown launched luxury shoe brand LVL XIII in late 2012 after being fired from his New York accountant job at a luxury doll maker. Brown has grown the $ 500 to $ 1,000 sneaker line through celebrity appearances – Jason Derulo is a business partner – and it is currently sold to Nordstrom and Bloomingdales. The company unsuccessfully sued Louis Vuitton in 2014, arguing that the fashion giant had copied the LVL XIII metal-toe design.

Brown won a special election in March 2019 after the death of City Councilor Ivory Young, edging out institutional favorite Greg Clay for a spot in a runoff by four out of 1,531 votes cast. Brown, 35, became the first openly gay black city councilor in the city’s history.

Brown has established himself as a vehement progressive, urging the city to pass tougher police reforms, but his initiatives have been rebuffed by longtime members, even in the black community – five out of eight black city councilors voted against its initial measurement. to sequester about $ 80 million in police funds, for example. Quietly, some council members accused Brown of demagoguery before more substantial work could be done.

BJay Pak, US District Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, said Wednesday that Brown had known for “some time ago” that he was the target of a federal investigation.

The immediate reaction of the political community was a mixture of disappointment, outrage and fear. Atlanta has been under federal scrutiny for years, particularly in the administration of contracts for the Watershed Department. Last month, federal prosecutors indicted former Atlanta Watershed Commissioner Jo Ann Macrina with conspiratorial bribery, bribery and tax evasion in connection with money and other valuables. ‘she accepted from the city of Atlanta and DeKalb County contractor, Lohrasb “Jeff” Jafari.

But the unrest of recent weeks and the political polarization of the day raise questions for activists about federal law enforcement activity.

“Don’t be so quick to throw out board member Antonio Brown,” said Devin Barrington Ward, a former Atlanta state senator and friend of Brown. “I still can’t see Donald Trump’s tax returns, Roger Stone is free and the president still owes Russia money, but the federal government can prioritize what Brown would have done BEFORE taking his functions? What I do know is that he is the only elected official in Georgia to propose a bill to fund police and reinvent public safety and it was almost passed.

– George Chidi is a political columnist and advocate for public policy.

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