The Brunswick city commissioner charged in connection to the shooting death of a toddler last month turned himself in to Camden County deputies Monday morning for charges from a separate racketeering investigation. The commissioner posted bail late Monday night and released from jail shortly after.
James Brooks faces a six-count grand jury indictment involving soliciting bribes. He is accused of taking money from people in exchange for wiping their criminal records clean. He is also accused of taking money from people to help them get licenses needed to open a business.
When surrendering Monday morning, Brooks was accompanied by two women, and when asked if he had anything to say to his constituents, he would only say, "Good morning."
Brooks' attorney, Alan Tucker, told Channel 4 the charges are taking a toll on his client.
“Well of course he's feeling rather distraught. He hoped that after a year maybe this thing would die down a little bit,” said Tucker.
Brooks already spent three weeks in jail last year.
Tucker said the indictment is one-sided, and the truth will come out in court.
Brooks pleaded not guilty at his arraignment Monday afternoon. He was granted $10,000 bond, and conditions include having no contact with witnesses or police and turning in police radios and scanners.
Tucker also asked for a speedy trial for Brooks, and a trial date was set for May 20.
Tucker said he is hoping for a proper verdict. According to the attorney, there's more at stake than Brooks going to jail.
“The sad thing about this is that the commission Brooks is removed from, his office by the governor, that leaves approximately 16,000 Brunswick citizens who will have one less voice in their city government,” said Tucker.
Joseph Mungin is one of the accusers listed in the court documents. He said that in 2010, he paid Brooks $500 to remove a misdemeanor sexual misconduct conviction.
Mungin says he thought since Brooks was a city official and the transaction was legit.
"So I waited and waited and nothing transpired, nothing happened," Mungin said. "So I decided to call the authorities."
Brooks' friend, Gary Cook, is coming to his defense.
"Just being a friend of his and knowing him., I think he's a great person, God-fearing person," Cook said.
Brooks was arrested last week in connection with the killing of 13-month-old Antonio Santiago (pictured, above). He was charged with obstruction of law enforcement and influencing a witness.
Santiago was shot and killed on March 21 while his mother pushed him in a stroller in a Brunswick neighborhood. Two teenagers charged with murder in the toddler's death remain in jail.