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

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

 

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.

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.

 

Former Georgia Sen. Charles Walker gets new hearing on prison sentence
Former state Sen. Charles Walker has paid restitution, court says
Trio of convicted Augusta politicians await release from prison
Walker can try for last appeal
Records show Walker, Williams were moved
Walker to wait for decision in prison
Walker claims political conspiracy
Where are they now? Convicted officials have served a third of prison terms
Judge denies Walker's appeal
Walker, Williams return to Estill
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.

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