State Rep. Tyrone Brooks could be suspended from office after a federal grand jury issued a 30-count indictment against the longtime Georgia lawmaker on Thursday.
The 54-page indictment against Brooks spells out allegations that he diverted almost a million dollars in charitable donations.
The donations included money from companies such as Coca-Cola and Georgia-Pacific.
Federal prosecutors charge that Brooks used the funds to pay personal expenses.
As Brooks awaits court proceedings, the state Constitution calls for Gov. Deal to name a three-person panel in coming weeks to review the case. The panel's conclusions could mandate that the governor suspend Brooks from office.
Following an appearance in Gwinnett County, Deal described the charges as "tragic."
"Any time that you have those kinds of problems with public officials, I think it is not good news for anybody, and certainly something that we regret. But it is something that has to be dealt with, and I'm sure the U.S. Attorney's Office will do so in a timely fashion and we will respond accordingly under state law," Deal said.
According to federal court documents, Brooks is to be arraigned on the charges next Wednesday.
His attorney is listed as former Georgia Gov. Roy Barnes. However, Barnes' law office declined to say if he would continue on the case now that an indictment has been returned.
Brooks has linked the federal investigation to his civil rights work, including efforts to reveal those responsible for the lynching of two black couples in 1946.
"We are going to explain why all of this is happening and the connection to the Moore's Ford Bridge lynchings," Brooks told FOX 5 on Thursday.
If Brooks is suspended, his seat would stay open until the next election.
The state panel in Brooks' case will include the Georgia attorney general and a state representative and state senator to be named by the governor.
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