Councilman Brown Federal Case Certified for Trial, Statements unlikely to be Suppressed
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(APN) ATLANTA — The federal case against Antonio Brown, Atlanta City Councilman and Mayoral candidate, is ready to head to trial, according to the certified recommendations of Magistrate Judge Alan J. Baverman filed with the U.S. District Court on yesterday, August 12, 2021, Atlanta Progressive News has learned.
The case is U.S.A. v. Brown, 1:20-cr-00288-MHC-AJB.
Mr. Brown, through his attorneys, has sought to suppress statements that he made to federal investigators, claiming that investigators did not give Brown a Miranda warning (“You have the right to remain silent…”).
However, Judge Baverman has recommended that the U.S. District Court deny Brown’s motion to suppress the statements because, he found, that Brown was not in custody at the time he made the statements and therefore was not entitled to a Miranda warning.
Brown has been provided with fourteen days to assert that Judge Bavernman’s recommendation was in error.
The full docket, including dozens of documents reviewed by APN, does not indicate the nature or content of the statements that Mr. Brown is attempting to suppress.
However, presumably, the statements were damaging to Mr. Brown’s case; and Brown’s likely loss on this motion to suppress, will undermine his efforts to defend against the federal charges.
FEDERAL CHARGES AND INTERVIEWS
On July 29, 2020, the U.S. Department of Justice announced an indictment against Mr. Brown, who had been elected to the Atlanta City Council in a March 2019 Special Election.
“Beginning in 2012, Antonio Brown opened a number of credit cards, which he then used to make thousands of dollars’ worth of purchases for his own personal benefit,” the USDOJ stated in a press release announcing the indictment.
“Brown also obtained over $60,000 in automobile loans to finance the purchases of a Mercedes C300 and a Range Rover,” the Department wrote.
“Despite opening and using these credit cards and despite taking the money for the two automobile 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.”
Brown has three attorneys representing him against the charges: Emily C. Ward of Smith, Gambrell & Russell, LLP; Jennifer Lynn Little of Fried Bonder White LLC; and Lawanda N. Hodges, the law firm of Lawanda Hodges.
It is not immediately clear who is paying for Brown’s legal defense, given his financial troubles that are apparent from the facts of the indictment itself as well as the recent downfall of his company. However, one leading theory is that his legal defense is being funded by the movement to defund the police.
In filings by the USDOJ and by Brown’s attorneys, it was revealed that Brown had already been under investigation for years before he ran for Atlanta City Council.
In 2020, shortly after being elected to the District 3 seat in a Special Election, Brown apparently went to the USDOJ with a purported whistleblower complaint.
In a plot twist worthy of a screenplay, when Brown went to the USDOJ with his complaint, he was unaware that the Department was already investigating him.
It is believed that the banks that Mr. Brown apparently attempted to defraud, had looked into Brown’s claims of identity theft; and then notified the U.S. Government when they learned that Brown had actually made the charges that he later misrepresented as identity theft.
The USDOJ interviewed Brown regarding his whistleblower complaint and then scheduled a second interview at Brown’s apartment at Atlantic Station.
Unbeknownst to Brown, the Department arrived for the follow-up interview with a warrant ready to execute; and several officers were outside awaiting to be given the word.
During the second interview, the Department changed the subject from Brown’s complaint to the matter of Brown’s personal finances. When doing so, Brown voluntarily began discussing his personal finances, although the government claimed he became nervous and fidgety.
Brown voluntarily revealed information to the government, instead of asking for an attorney to be present.
After discussing his finances at length, without having the opportunity to prepare his story and therefore likely revealing more than he ought to have revealed, Brown was shocked to learn that the USDOJ had a warrant, which they then executed.
Brown’s attorneys later argued that he should have been read his Miranda rights at the start of the interview because he was in a small apartment and because he was deceived as to the real purpose of the interview.
Judge Baverman ruled that the size of the apartment was irrelevant; and that Brown’s statements were voluntary despite the fact that he was unaware that he was himself the subject of an investigation. Brown was not detained when he made the statements, nor did he know there was a warrant; therefore, he was free to go and a Miranda warning was unnecessary.
BROWN’S COMPANY AND NONPROFIT
Previously, APN has reported that Mr. Brown’s company, LVL XIII (“Level Thirteen”), has apparently wound down operations; and all six of Brown’s Georgia corporate entities with the name LVL XIII have been administratively dissolved.
In addition, APN has learned that Mr. Brown’s nonprofit organization, Dream of Humanity, had its tax exempt status revoked by the Internal Revenue Service for failure to file tax returns three years in a row; and has been administratively dissolved by the State of Georgia.
BROWN OPEN RECORDS VIOLATIONS
Brown also faces an open records lawsuit brought by APN’s News Editor for his failure to timely reply to an open records request in February 2020.
In that matter, currently before the Court of Appeals of Georgia, Brown is represented by Jacob Stalvey O’Neal and David Ware of Hall Smith Booth P.C.
In that case, Brown is arguing that he is not a custodian of the records in his possession; and that only the Attorney General can seek a civil penalty against Brown.
The City of Atlanta is apparently paying for Brown’s defense in that matter, according to an open records request to the Law Department of the City of Atlanta.
As of June 2021, the City had spent over 259,000 dollars since June 2020 defending Brown and other elected officials in litigation with APN’s News Editor for violations of the Georgia Open Records Act and Georgia Open Meetings Act (as well as City policy limiting public comment regarding election-related grievances).
(END / Copyright Atlanta Progressive News / 2021)