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Former Atlanta Councilman avoids prison, sentenced to house arrest


Former Atlanta Councilman and 2021 mayoral candidate, Antonio Brown, will avoid prison in his bank fraud case and instead be sentenced to house arrest.

On Thursday, U.S. District Court Judge Mark H. Cohen sentenced Brown to time served, with 18 months of supervised release which will include eight months of house arrest. The judge acknowledged that Brown previously served three years on supervised pretrial probation, with no issues or infractions. 

On July 29, 2020, a federal grand jury indicted Brown on multiple felony charges of fraud, including making false statements on a bank loan application. At the time, prosecutors alleged that prior to his time on council, Brown lied about his income to get thousands of dollars in loans and credit cards for personal purchases, including a Range Rover and Mercedes Benz C300, before he falsely claimed identity theft.

The prosecutors dropped several charges against Brown after he pleaded guilty to a single count of bank fraud in January. Brown admitted to lying about his income on a 2017 application for a $75,000 bank loan that would have kept his business afloat. 

In his decision, Cohen said the bank never gave Brown a loan, so no harm was done to the bank or its patrons. Citing growing up as a school dropout and parents involved in crime, Cohen said he was impressed with Brown’s “tough uphill battle” to turn his life around. As a councilman from 2019-22, Brown helped pass more than 60 pieces of legislation. Cohen also said he admired Brown for continuing to work hard even after his political career ended. 

The federal prosecutors agreed to ask Cohen to sentence Brown to 18 months of probation. But on Thursday, attorneys for both Brown and the government asked Cohen for a sentence of 18 months of supervised release after they were told probation is prohibited under the law, because the offense is a Class B felony.  Normally, the maximum sentence for fraud is decades in prison and $1 million in fines. 

The prosecutors and Brown’s attorneys painted the former councilman as a good public servant who made mistakes due to desperation and his traumatic background. The court also received letters of support and a joint request for leniency from City Councilman Matt Westmoreland and six other current and former city council members including Liliana Bakhtiari, Andrea Boone, JP Matzigkeit, Carla Smith, Natalyn Archibong, and Jennifer Ide.

A city council letterhead document submitted to the court said in part, “Ethical, transparent, putting the residents of Atlanta first — Antonio was an honorable representative for this city.” 

You’re getting a break here today,” said Cohen, who noted the sentencing was below their standard guidelines. “No one wants you back in this position again.” 

Cohen warned Brown not to commit any future crimes.


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