The Greater Atlanta organization maintained an active presence on Facebook, sought donations through GoFundMe, and cheered on the protesters. “We’ve been blown away by the millions that are coming together to demand justice — for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and countless others who’ve had their lives taken,” said one of its posts in August.
Mr. Page said in private messages that the donations it received were being used to finance the group’s activism, federal investigators said. None of the money was “used for personal items,” Mr. Page wrote in one of the messages. “All movement related.”
Other groups based in Atlanta have distanced themselves from Mr. Page’s organization and its appeals for money. A similarly named but unrelated organization, Black Lives Matter Atlanta, wrote on Facebook, “This page will never seek donations. This is a grass-roots collective movement to fight for justice for the disenfranchised, and victims of police brutality.”
The Greater Atlanta group stressed in a post in June that donations to it were not tax-deductible: “We said it once, and we will say it again, BLMGA is no longer a nonprofit org, we are a social media grass roots org.”
The authorities said that Mr. Page established a nonprofit organization in 2016 and opened a bank account for Black Lives Matter of Greater Atlanta Inc. in 2018 with himself as the only signatory. The balance in the account never exceeded $5,000 until May of this year, and at one point it was overdrawn by $12.42.
But then donations exploded.
Investigators found that Mr. Page used a debit card linked to the bank account to pay for food, entertainment, furniture and a home security system. On Aug. 21, the authorities said, he spent $112,000 of the donated money for the house in Toledo and an adjacent lot.
A friend, Ron Goolsby, told The Toledo Blade that he expected Mr. Page to be exonerated. Mr. Page had plans to turn the Toledo house into a shelter for victims of domestic abuse, Mr. Goolsby said. “This is all going to be cleared up, for sure,” he said.