Former Georgia Sen. Charles Walker gets new hearing on prison sentence

Walker is scheduled to finish his sentence at a medium-security federal prison in Estill, S.C., on Sept. 26, 2014. Walker, 63, was once one of the most influential politicians in the state before the Democratic stronghold in Georgia was broken in the 2002 election.

The 10-year prison sentence of former state Sen. Charles Walker could be re-evaluated after he gained a partial victory in a federal appeals court.

An 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision Aug. 23 agrees with Walker’s assertion that his appellate counsel failed to argue that his sentence was an unreasonable upward departure from the sentencing guidelines. Federal judges also said that the district court below them should have considered those arguments about ineffectual counsel.

Amy Adelson, an attorney representing Walker, said a mandate will be issued from the 11th Circuit remanding the case back to district court. A district judge will hear new arguments about the counsel issue, then issue another opinion.

Walker was convicted of 127 felony charges related to various schemes to cheat advertisers for his Augusta Focus newspaper, two public hospitals, campaign contributors and the CSRA Classic charity event he founded. Walker paid $698,047 in restitution and another $200,000 in fines and court fees.

Depending on the district judge’s decision, Walker’s sentence could be vacated, which means a new sentence would have to be imposed. It’s possible that he could receive credit for time served and be set free, or the sentence could simply be reduced, said Adelson.

The upward departure from sentencing guidelines “is really the issue that we’re fighting,” Adelson said.

If the district judge decides that the argument is invalid, then the case would be returned to the appeals court, Adelson said.

Walker is scheduled to finish his sentence at a medium-security federal prison in Estill, S.C., on Sept. 26, 2014. Walker, 63, was once one of the most influential politicians in the state before the Democratic stronghold in Georgia was broken in the 2002 election. But Walker made it back into office by beating former Sen. Don Cheeks to recapture his old Senate seat, District 22, while under federal indictment.

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