Antonio Brown, the only out member of the Atlanta City Council, has been indicted on federal fraud charges stemming from loan applications he made before he was elected to the council.
A federal grand jury announced the charges Wednesday. Brown is charged with wire fraud, mail fraud, bank fraud, and making false statements on a bank loan application, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia.
Brown is accused of making false statements about his income and assets when applying to Signature Bank for a loan in 2017. He said he earned $325,000 a year and had $200,000 in assets, whereas other loan applications and his federal income tax return showed much less, the prosecutor’s office states.
Also, beginning in 2012, he had taken out several credit cards and received $60,000 in auto loans, which helped him buy a Mercedes and a Range Rover, but then falsely claimed he was a victim of identity theft and someone else had obtained the credit cards and the loans, according to the prosecutor.
Brown said Thursday that he intends to fight the charges and will not resign from the council, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. The same day, he tweeted, “The people that have walked alongside me know my heart, sense of integrity & relentless passion to fight for the least of these. God has been preparing me for such a time as this, I’ve overcome greater, my spirit is strong & I place my faith in God’s plan.”
Brown, a 35-year-old bisexual man, was the first Black member of the LGBTQ+ community elected to the council. He won a special election in 2019 to replace a council member who had died, Ivory Lee Young.
Brown has been outspoken about police brutality and economic inequality, and has sometimes been an adversary of Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. He was quick to call for the resignation of Police Chief Erika Shields after an officer shot and killed Rayshard Brooks, a Black man, in the parking lot of a Wendy’s restaurant in June, Project Q Atlanta notes. Shields, a lesbian who was Atlanta’s first out police chief, resigned shortly after Brooks’s death.
He has also called for major changes to the Atlanta Police Department and launched the People’s Uprising Taskforce, a group tasked with addressing economic inequality, education reform, and criminal justice reform. In June, the group held a demonstration called the Beauty in Colors Rally, commemorating the Stonewall riots and demanding equality for Black transgender people.
Brown sponsored an ordinance passed by the council in February that makes it illegal for landlords to reject federal housing vouchers as payment for rent, the Journal-Constitution reports. More recently, he has proposed outlawing the use of tear gas, rubber bullets, and other “riot agents” to disperse protesters.