A grand jury indicted an East Feliciana Parish School Board member who collected a paycheck while missing nearly three-quarters of scheduled meetings since 2016, including 16 of 19 meetings last year.

Grand jurors returned a bill of information Tuesday charging Edward Brooks Jr. with public payroll fraud, which carries fines of up to $1,000 and up to two years in prison.

School district records show Brooks missed 39 out of 51 meetings while still collecting $500 each month; the district subtracts $50 when members miss monthly meetings.

Attendance records say he attended six of eight meetings in 2016, but later missed 10 of 12 meetings in 2017. In 2018, Brooks missed 10 of 14 meetings and attended only three meetings last year, records show.

The last meeting he attended was in March 2019.

Since taking office in 2016, Brooks has received more than $18,000 through last June, according to school district records.

District Attorney Sam D'Aquilla said Brooks' absences weren't justified.

Brooks acknowledged his infrequent attendance at meetings and told The Advocate last week his job as a truck driver and Clinton Police officer has made it difficult to attend every meeting. He said he often took phone calls from parents and constituents, even making calls while on the road at his trucking job when they had concerns.

Brooks was appointed to the position after his brother, Broderick Brooks Sr., a school board member, was fatally shot in Baton Rouge in 2016. He served the rest of his brother’s term after no one qualified to run against him, and he won reelection in 2018.

Brooks sought a position on the parish police jury in April after the death of his father, Edward Brooks Sr., who died from complications linked to COVID-19.

Before legal issues arose about Brooks’ attendance on the board, he submitted his resignation to the superintendent last month. But the resignation notice was not completed because the paperwork wasn’t filed to the Louisiana Secretary of State's Office to declare the elected seat vacant.

In his Aug. 18 letter he sent to school leaders, Brooks touched on his father’s death and his inability to attend meetings regularly due to his work schedule.

Brooks declined to comment on the indictment Tuesday. 

An arraignment hearing on his case hasn't been set. 

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