Trio of convicted Augusta politicians await release from prison

In 2004 and for the next two years the indictment and conviction of three prominent politicians rocked the Augusta area. In a few years all three will be released from federal prisons.

 

Linda Schrenko, Robin Williams and Charles W. Walker Sr. should complete their prison sentences on Aug. 29, 2013, July 20, 2014, and Sept. 26, 2014, respectively — except Walker could be out earlier if his current appeal suceeds.

Schrenko, now 62, was the first woman and the first Republican to hold a statewide political office in Georgia. She served as the state’s schools superintendent for eight years and then made a run for governor.

The 2002 gubernatorial race would lead to Schrenko’s downfall. She stole $600,000 in federal funds set aside for educational services for deaf children and those in the governor’s honors programs. With the help of her boyfriend, deputy and campaign manager, Merle Temple, 63, Schrenko funneled the money into her campaign.

Temple is scheduled to released from prison on Dec. 1, 2012. He is held in a medium-security federal prison in Talladega, Ala. Another associate, Richard Leonard, was sentenced to one year of probation and fined. South African businessman A. Stephan Botes, 54, is scheduled to be released in June 2013. According to his Prison Faces profile, Botes is in a federal prison in Safford, Ariz.

Williams, 49, served a decade in the state House of Representatives, building consensuses with Democrats like former Senate Majority Leader Walker. He lost his 2000 Republican primary election to political newcomer Sue Burmeister.

Williams schemed to steal more than $2 million from the local community mental health center, one of the only mental health facilities available for poor people. Williams worked behind the scenes to get his friend C. Michael Brockman put in charge of the center and together they directed lucrative contracts to Williams’ friends who in turned kicked back money to Williams. All were convicted at trial.

Brockman died of cancer before his six-year prison sentence began. M. Chad Long, 40, a lobbyist and grandson of state political heavyweight former House Speaker Tom Murphy, was released from federal custody in January 2008. Former Atlanta Braves pitcher and state lobbyist Rick L. Camp, 59, was released in March of 2008. And Augusta pharmacist Duncan Fordham, 57, was released in February 2009.

Like Williams, Walker is serving his prison sentenced at a medium-security prison in Estill, S.C. Walker, 63, was convicted of 127 felony charges related to various schemes. Walker paid $698,047 in restitution and another $200,000 in fines and court fees.

Walker is scheduled to be released in 2014, but his sentence could be reevaluated after an 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision on Aug. 23 agreed with Walker’s assertion that his appellate counsel failed to argue that his sentence was an unreasonable upward departure from sentencing guidelines.

 

What ever happened to...

Have you ever wanted to know what became of a person or issue that once dominated the local news ?

The Augusta Chronicle provides answers to readers’ requests in its regular series, ‘What ever happened to…?’

Today, we update the status of three prominent Augusta politicians -- Linda Schrenko, Robin Williams and Charles Walker Sr. -- who were convicted of crimes in a three year period from 2004-2006.

Requests can be

e-mailed to mike.wynn@augustachronicle.com; mailed to The Augusta Chronicle, P.O. Box 1928, Augusta, GA , 30903-1928, Attn: Mike Wynn; or placed in the online comment section at augustachronicle.com.

 

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