The past is making an unwelcome visit at the doorstep of Atlanta City Councilman Antonio Brown—the only LGBTQ member currently serving on the council. The U.S. Attorney's Office handed down an indictment saying Brown attempted to defraud several financial institutions dating back to 2012.
A grand jury on Wednesday charged Brown with wire fraud, mail fraud, bank fraud, and making false statements on a bank loan application. It is also alleged that Brown faked loan documents to purchase a Mercedes C300 and a Range Rover.
The attorney's office said the charges are in connection with his "attempts 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."
According to U.S. Attorney Byung J. "BJay" Pak, the 35-year-old councilman opened a number of credit cards, "which he then used to make thousands of dollars’ worth of purchases for his own personal benefit."
He said Brown also obtained over $60,000 in automobile loans to finance the purchases of a Mercedes C300 and a Range Rover.
The indictment claims that despite opening and using these credit cards and taking the money for the car loans, Brown allegedly falsely claimed that his identity had been stolen and that someone else had made the credit card purchases or had taken out these loans.
A second allegation claims Brown provided false information when applying for a $75,000 loan in 2017 -- claiming he earned $325,000 and had $200,000 in available cash or assets. The attorney's office claims Brown knew this to be false "because he had recently submitted other loan applications reporting far less income and available cash or assets."
Pak noted that the charges in the indictment all relate to conduct that occurred before Brown was elected to the Atlanta City Council.
Matt Hennie of Project Q Atlanta provides additional background on Brown's election to City Council.
In June, he called for the resignation of police Chief Erika Shields, the city's first LGBTQ top cop, after an officer shot and killed Rayshard Brooks in a Wendy's parking lot. Shields resigned hours after the incident. Brown has been a vocal proponent of reforming the Atlanta Police Department and detailed his reforms in a live Q&A with Project Q last month.
Brown also launched the People's Uprising Taskforce this summer. The group of community organizers, elected officials and influencers was formed to address economic inequality, public safety reform, education reform, criminal justice reform and civic engagement. In June, Brown and the task force hosted the Beauty in Colors Rally, a march through Midtown that celebrated the 51st anniversary of the Stonewall Riots and called for justice and equality for black transgender people.
Brown's shocking indictment comes months after the equally shocking Andrew Gillum scandal—both are talented Black men with a reservoir of political potential. And like Gillum, Brown will be written off by a segment of voters, while many in the Black community will continue to offer their support. Former Georgia State Senate candidate Devin Barrington Ward (D-38), who is also openly gay and a staunch advocate for civil rights and defunding the police, shared his thoughts in a Facebook post that we believe deserves to be read.
Brown's attorney says his client is not guilty of the federal charges levied at his client.
On social media, Brown posted, "Just when your "enemy" seems to have the upper hand, place your trust in God and realize that the day set for your destruction may actually be the day of your deliverance."