A Bowling Green man set to run for state Senate was once indicted on numerous theft charges and was disbarred in Tennessee – terminating his status as a lawyer – for complaints related to those charges.
Troy Brooks announced this week his intention to file and run to represent the 32nd Senate District. Incumbent Sen. Mike Wilson, R- Bowling Green, filed to run for re-election to that seat.
A filing in the Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee states that Brooks was indicted by a grand jury in Wilson County on five counts of theft over $10,000, four counts of theft over $1,000, six counts of fraudulent use of a credit card in the amount of $1,000 to $10,000 and one count of fraudulent use of a credit card in the amount of over $500. The case arose from the misappropriation of about $185,000 from nine clients, according to the filing.
According to a 2008 judgment from the Board of Professional Responsibility of the Supreme Court of Tennessee, Brooks pleaded guilty to four charges of theft over $10,000.
Four charges of theft over $1,000 were dismissed, according to the judgment.
The judgment states that 37 complaints against Brooks are incorporated into various supplemental petitions.
“The pattern seems to be accepting retainers from clients and not performing the work promised, accepting funds to pay experts or as settlement to be disbursed to clients and not disbursing the funds but rather converting them for his own use,” it states.
The judgment states that, in total, Brooks “obtained $250,794.30 of his (clients’) or third parties’ money and converted it to his own use.”
It states that the judgment against Brooks is a default judgment in which all the petitions against him are deemed to be true because he failed to respond to discovery requests.
On Tuesday, Brooks said he did not plead guilty to the charges.
Brooks said his record has been expunged and that he is eligible to apply for reinstatement through the Board of Professional Responsibility of the Supreme Court of Tennessee. However, he said he has no plans to do so.
Sandy Garrett, chief disciplinary council for the board, said Brooks is eligible for reinstatement because enough time has passed – five years – since his disbarment, but reinstatement would have to be approved by a hearing panel of judges.
Brooks said incidents that led to the charges were not cases of theft, but merely disputes over fees and misunderstandings and that the charges have now been dismissed.
“It took me a long time to clear my name, and I didn’t stop until my name was cleared,” he said.
He produced orders of expungement citing either “successful completion of all probation provisions and proceedings against defendant have been discharged by the court,” or “nolle prosequi entered in the case” as reasons he was entitled to have records related to the charges expunged. “Nolle prosequi” is a declaration by a prosecutor or plaintiff that he or she will not proceed further with a case.
The Board of Professional Responsibility judgment cites court documents wherein Brooks attributed misconduct to a “get-rich-quick” scheme through email that promised investment opportunities in Nigerian oil and gas.
According to the judgment, after researching the offer, Brooks began using clients’ money for investment “with the full assurances that (he) would have the return of the money in time to take care of all disbursements.”
After realizing the opportunity was a scam, he started gambling “under the false hope that (he) could recoup the funds until (he) was reported (to the Board of Professional Responsibility),” according to the judgment.
On Tuesday, Brooks described the narrative within the Board of Professional Responsibility judgment – including the accusation that he used client money for investment in Nigerian oil and gas – as “totally false” and said that the charges arose from fee disputes with clients.
“I totally dispute that and don’t think that’s accurate,” he said.
Brooks said he refunded the money in dispute to clients.
“It’s unfortunate that it rose to that level, but it did,” he said.
Brooks said he doesn’t have a gambling problem.
“I’ve never had a gambling addiction, nor do I gamble,” he said.
Brooks declined to further discuss details of the circumstances that preceded the charges.