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Ex-state Sen. Charles Walker being moved from federal prison

Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2013 11:40 AM
Last updated Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013 1:17 AM
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Former state Sen. Charles W. Walker is being transferred from a federal prison in Estill, S.C., a Federal Bureau of Prisons spokesman said Tuesday.

Charles W. Walker was convicted of 127 of 137 criminal charges of conspiracy, mail fraud, and false tax returns on June 3, 2005.  MIKE HOLAHAN/FILE
MIKE HOLAHAN/FILE
Charles W. Walker was convicted of 127 of 137 criminal charges of conspiracy, mail fraud, and false tax returns on June 3, 2005.


The bureau did not say where Walker is being transferred and won’t until the transfer is complete because it would pose a safety risk.

Walker, 66, was convicted of 127 felony charges related to various schemes in 2005. He paid more than $1 million in restitution, fines and court fees.

A federal jury convicted Walker of charges relating to the gross inflation of his newspaper’s circulation, which cheated two advertisers; using his political influence and lying about his ownership of his personnel company to obtain government contracts at two public hospitals; and helping himself to money raised by the charity he co-founded, the CSRA Classic football event.

Bureau of Prisons spokesman Chris Burke said Walker still has a release date of Sept. 26, 2014, and will remain in custody until then, but he is eligible for a community-based program, which includes options such as a halfway house and home confinement.

Augusta Commission member Bill Fennoy, who managed a convenience store for Walker, said he was told by a reliable source who’s “99 percent” certain that the former state senator is being released to a halfway house in Columbia.

“It’s the same type transitional center that the federal government is trying to get started in Richmond County that he’s in today,” said Fennoy, who has worked in the prison system transition centers for the health department. “He will have to work and abide by the rules of the transitional center until he’s fully released. A portion of earnings go toward room and board at transitional center. Outstanding fines or fees that he has incurred, a portion of his earnings, will go toward that. A portion of his earnings he will have to save.”

He said many in the Augusta community will be happy to hear the news about Walker.

“A lot of people feel that he was unjustly incarcerated,” Fennoy said. “Personally, I don’t see where he did anything wrong. I was not at the trial; the federal government may be privy to information I don’t have, but I don’t personally feel like he did anything wrong.

“The community will be glad to see when he’s permanently released and glad to see him reunited with his family and to get on with his life.”

In the federal court system, parole has been abolished but a prisoner may be released early when he is within one year of completing his sentence.

After Walker completes his sentence, he will begin a three-year period of supervised release, remaining under the federal court’s control.

Butch Gallop, a relative and protege of Walker’s, called his release to a halfway house “a wonderful thing.”

“It’s going to be a wonderful thing for me personally that he’s out,” said Gallop, a consultant for a company that manages the city’s construction projects. “One, he’s family. That’s important to me: family. He is to me a hell of a man, and he deserves a second chance just like everyone else. He’s been great to this community for a long time. He’s been great for the state.”

In 1996, Walker became one of Georgia’s most powerful politicians when his peers chose him to be the Senate majority leader. Although he lost his Senate seat in 2002, Walker’s popularity continued in the community and he was able to regain the seat in 2004 – after he was indicted on the federal charges.

Any future political run Walker might contemplate will be delayed a decade.

A state law that went into effect in 1991 prohibits convicted felons from holding political office until they have their civil rights restored and 10 years have passed without further criminal conviction.

Staff Writer Sandy Hodson contributed to this article.

The backstory

BACKGROUND:

Charles W. Walker was convicted of 127 of 137 criminal charges of conspiracy, mail fraud and false tax returns on June 3, 2005.

On Nov. 29, 2005, he was sentenced to 121 months in prison and ordered to pay more than $1 million in fines, special assessments and restitution.

DEVELOPMENTS: 

On Tuesday, Walker was released from the federal Estill Correctional Facility in South Carolina to a transition center.

Walker’s incarceration period ends Sept. 26, 2014. After that time, he will be on three years of supervised release and subject to a number of restrictions.

 TIMELINE:

November 1947: Charles W. Walker born in Burke County.

1959: Walker starts his first business by organizing other boys to help him sell boiled peanuts.

1965-69: Walker serves in the Navy during the Vietnam War.

1974: Walker graduates from Augusta College with a degree in business administration.

1982-90: Walker serves in the Georgia House of Representatives.

1990: Walker elected to the state Senate.

1991: Law goes into effect in Georgia that prohibits convicted felons from running for political office until their civil rights are restored and 10 years has passed without another criminal conviction.

1996: State senators vote for Walker to become Georgia’s first black Senate majority leader.

2002: Walker loses his Senate seat to political newcomer J. Randal Hall.

2003: Federal agents execute search warrants at Walker’s company and his newspaper, The Augusta Focus.

June 23, 2004: Walker is indicted on federal charges.

2004: Walker regains Senate seat by soundly beating Republican Sen. Don Cheeks.

June 3, 2005: Walker convicted in federal court. He is immediately stripped of his Senate seat.

Nov. 29, 2005: Walker gets 121 months in federal prison.

Dec. 15, 2005: Walker begins prison term in Estill, S.C., facility.

July 6, 2007: Federal appeals court denies Walker’s appeal. Ruling would survive all further appellate challenges.

December 2008: U.S. District Judge Dudley H. Bowen Jr., who presided over Walker’s trial, divides $67,000 restitution Walker paid for illegal use of campaign funds among several charities including the Heritage Academy, Augusta State University Foundation and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Augusta.

Comments (38) Add comment
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bright idea
933
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bright idea 12/17/13 - 12:09 pm
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7
He will at least

end up a Richmond County commissioner or even Mayor at some point unless it is already specifically against the law.

itsanotherday1
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itsanotherday1 12/17/13 - 12:10 pm
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2
For those who bet on an early

For those who bet on an early release, it didn't happen. Barry Paschal told you so.

itsanotherday1
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itsanotherday1 12/17/13 - 12:13 pm
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bright idea..

You are probably right about his political involvement. I'm hopeful that he would use his savvy and influence for the betterment of the community rather than himself. I'm sure we will get a chance to see....

Austin Rhodes
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Austin Rhodes 12/17/13 - 12:20 pm
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2
According to a GA state law he helped push through...

The former state senator will not be eligible to run for state or local office until 10 years from the date of his completed sentence. That would be late 2024.

bright idea
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bright idea 12/17/13 - 12:23 pm
5
7
Appoint him

administrator then.

galaxygrl
1350
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galaxygrl 12/17/13 - 12:27 pm
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4
City Administrator?

There is an opening.......

galaxygrl
1350
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galaxygrl 12/17/13 - 12:29 pm
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5
Austin

I am finding the news quite amusing this morning. I feel like I woke up in a parallel universe today. It must be the CERN project at work.

Austin Rhodes
3002
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Austin Rhodes 12/17/13 - 12:31 pm
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7
Galaxy....

...had this over on social media the 13th...surprised it took so long to hit the TV and paper...

bright idea
933
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bright idea 12/17/13 - 12:33 pm
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5
What I'm really saying

is that the good citizens of Richmond County will find a way to put him in charge of something so he can get back into their wallets. Lots of lost time to make up.

seenitB4
98774
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seenitB4 12/17/13 - 01:00 pm
5
7
What a smile

He might surprise everyone.....

dichotomy
37674
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dichotomy 12/17/13 - 01:02 pm
11
3
There's always money for

There's always money for another consultant or community liaison contractor. I'm sure he will end up with his hand in our pocket somehow.

southern2
7933
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southern2 12/17/13 - 01:18 pm
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4
I'm hearing the Jaw's shark

I'm hearing the Jaw's shark music as I read this!

I'll bet the little dog on his desk is starving.

Riverman1
94428
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Riverman1 12/17/13 - 01:20 pm
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3
Butch Gallop

Y’all know who Butch Gallop is don’t you? He’s the “community relations expert,” that Heery Int. Company uses and passes his billing onto the county. He’s paid over $200 an hour and has a county office. Heery manages the county construction projects in the county.

Riverman1
94428
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Riverman1 12/17/13 - 01:22 pm
7
6
Rights Restored

He could have his rights restored and be able to run for office. He would easily win whatever he ran for in Richmond County.

Austin Rhodes
3002
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Austin Rhodes 12/17/13 - 01:34 pm
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7
He would win in a county wide race tomorrow...

...BUT...Obama is going to be under huge pressure NOT to sign FULL PARDONS like this...trust me...I saw this happen with Ed McIntyre and Bill Clinton...

There is no way he "easily" gets his rights restored. 10 years. You can make book on it.

Riverman1
94428
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Riverman1 12/17/13 - 01:47 pm
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5
A pardon is a possibility,

A pardon is a possibility, but that's not what I was talking about. It is possible for a felon to petition the state and have his rights restored. Walker would have character witnesses, employment stability and every other thing you can think of in order for such a request. Whether that affects his ability to run for office is unclear to me, but I would assume it would allow him to hold office.

Austin Rhodes
3002
Points
Austin Rhodes 12/17/13 - 01:56 pm
6
4
The State cannot pardon for a Federal Conviction...

There is one way, and one way ONLY he gets around this...a full Presidential Pardon.

Even IF his sentence was commuted, that would not eliminate the ten year waiting period. Has to be a FULL pardon...no other way.

Riverman1
94428
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Riverman1 12/17/13 - 02:24 pm
3
8
Austin, you may be right

Austin, you may be right about this, but it is my thinking that the state takes your civil rights from you and it will be the one to restore them, not the feds. The feds are not the ones taking his civil rights. Again, I'm not talking about a pardon. It's a restoration of rights. When you say the ten year requirement that's a state law for sure, but I am asking if your rights are restored by the state is that 10 year wait waived? Of course my question hinges on if the state can restore his rights since he committed a federal crime. I'm asking, not debating.

grinder48
2059
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grinder48 12/17/13 - 02:32 pm
0
0
Huh?
Unpublished

Fennoy said, "The community will be glad to see when he’s permanently released ... " I'm part of the community and I won't be glad and I'll bet I'm not alone in that. What a ridiculous statement.

Fiat_Lux
16445
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Fiat_Lux 12/17/13 - 02:53 pm
10
3
I guess there are plenty of people in Richmond county

who just don't have a problem with having their charitable giving diverted into private pockets.

If Bill Fennoy can't understand what Walker did wrong--so wrong that the Feds put him away for a decade--then you really have to wonder about him, and even more about the people who elected him to the county commission.

This says more about Richmond County than almost anything else happening. Even Deke couldn't make this shine.

GiantsAllDay
10562
Points
GiantsAllDay 12/17/13 - 02:57 pm
1
9
Austin, While he is waiting

Austin,
While he is waiting for his 10 years to pass, he can run (and be elected) as mayor of Washington, DC

Riverman1
94428
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Riverman1 12/17/13 - 03:04 pm
4
3
GAD, that's an interesting point

GAD, that's an interesting point. I remember all that well with the FBI sting. I was working in Wash. DC when Mayor Marion Barry was arrested, tried and sentenced for cocaine. He served time, but went back in politics soon after release. He was elected to city council 2 years after his release and became mayor again 4 years later.

Bizkit
35764
Points
Bizkit 12/17/13 - 03:42 pm
5
6
I think he still has a big

I think he still has a big staff and business as usual while in prison-sort of like Good Fellas. He will probably be our next president-he could run for that. Good grief.

willie7
1047
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willie7 12/17/13 - 03:43 pm
0
0
God bless Charles
Unpublished

God bless Charles Walker!!!!!!

usklxm72
13
Points
usklxm72 12/17/13 - 04:14 pm
3
5
Is that a recent picture, he

Is that a recent picture, he is still handsome.

Little Lamb
49260
Points
Little Lamb 12/17/13 - 04:51 pm
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2
Picture

I believe that picture was taken during the trial.

Just My Opinion
6304
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Just My Opinion 12/17/13 - 05:04 pm
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Bill Fennoy said "I was not

Bill Fennoy said "I was not at the trial, the federal government may be privy to information I don’t have but I don’t personally feel like he did anything wrong.".
Are you kidding me?? The Feds MAY BE PRIVY to information Fennoy doesn't have??? You think?? Who the heck does this dude think he is? Folks, this speaks VOLUMES about the type of person and politician that Bill Fennoy is! Does he feel that he is bigger, more informed than the federal government?
Saying that he wasn't even at the trial, missing all that actual evidence, yet handing down his judgement is like someone saying that seeing a movie trailer is as sufficient as reading the book the movie was based upon...and saying if it was good or not!!
I've met Bill Fennoy once and was not impressed at all. Very inarticulate and somewhat slow. I thought I had caught him on a bad day. Sounds like I may have caught him on a good day.
As far as Charles Walker is concerned....and I can't believe I'm saying this....but, I feel we should give him a chance. Sure, there are many others that know him much better than I do, but I do think that, since he served his sentence, he deserves another chance. We're willing to give it to others who did their time, so now it's time that we don't come off as hypocrites.

rmwhitley
5547
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rmwhitley 12/17/13 - 05:24 pm
0
0
Look for
Unpublished

an appointment to a state or federal office for Mr. Walker from the obama regime.

Little Lamb
49260
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Little Lamb 12/17/13 - 05:38 pm
6
1
Thumbs Up

Good post, JMO. I enjoyed this sentence:

I do think that, since he served his sentence, he deserves another chance.

Believe me, he will definitely take it.

Pops
14880
Points
Pops 12/17/13 - 07:13 pm
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2
Fennoy's quote

“A lot of people feel that he was unjustly incarcerated,” Fennoy said. “Personally, I don’t see where he did anything wrong. I was not at the trial;"

Pretty much sums up what Mr. Fennoy is all about.

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