Richmond County records of candidates explored

Unpaid taxes, liens, bankruptcies on file

Saturday, Nov. 3, 2012 1:48 AM
Last updated Sunday, Nov. 4, 2012 1:08 AM
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The Augusta Chronicle checked Richmond County public records of candidates in the 12 contested local races. Searches for felony criminal, civil and financial issues were conducted.


In 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 county liens were filed to collect property taxes on three properties owned by Marion Williams, a candidate for the Augusta Commission’s Super District 9 seat. Williams paid off each lien, most recently in June.

He was also sued by Bus Stop Financial in 2010 seeking to collect Chase Bank’s $1,646. The company granted summary judgment, and a lien was issued.

Williams said he eventually paid all of the bills, but he sometimes struggled to pay on time.

“People don’t understand the struggles of people and sometimes you pay slow,” he said. “I’ve never had anything repossessed; have I paid a late fee? Yes, plenty of times. Did I pay late? Yes, but I did pay.”


Robert E. and Janet W. Cheek, of Country Place Drive, filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy in February 2005. They listed $257,784 in debts and $378,270 in assets, mostly composed of their home and 53 acres of farmland on Deans Bridge Road. They were granted discharge in June 2009.

Cheek, who is running for the Richmond County Board of Education’s District 8 seat, said he filed bankruptcy after a business partner, who was involved in “a bad investment,” died and left him with the liabilities. Cheek declined to talk about the investment on the record, but said it was a personal business venture that he decided to get out of.

“I ended up getting stuck with everything, and that was all I could do,” Cheek said.


Georgia state tax liens that were filed against Richard Roundtree for years 1997, 2001, 2003, 2004 and 2005 have been paid off; a lien by Midland Funding has also been paid off; another state tax lien for 2005 was paid off.

There also was a 2008 child support petition filed for a child born in May 2005. Roundtree settled with a payment plan.

Roundtree, the Democratic candidate for Richmond County sheriff, said the state tax liens were something he was not aware of for several years because he was still receiving income tax refunds from the state during those years.

“I didn’t know you could get a refund and still owe money, but that is how the state works,” he said, explaining that he paid off the liens when he learned he owed the tax.

Roundtree said the petition for child support was something he worked out with his son’s mother when she was going to remarry. He said it was a way of formalizing an agreement they already had.

“I didn’t owe child support. I had not missed a payment,” he said.


A lien in 2003 filed in Columbia County for Probate Court judge candidate Harry James and his wife for state income tax of $9,205 was paid in April 2008. A federal tax lien filed in Richmond County the same year was also paid off.

Richmond County filed liens for property taxes on his office on Sixth Street in 2003, 2005, 2006, 2008 and 2011. He paid each off eventually.

There was also a lien filed by First American Title, which was granted judgment in state court. It was also paid off.

The Georgia Department of Labor filed a small lien in 2011, which he paid off in January.

James was sued to collect a $17,920 credit card debt in 2011. He worked out a payment plan in March.

James said there was nothing to comment about or explain regarding his financial information.


Records show David Hopper, who is running for Georgia House District 125, filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy on May 14, 2009. He had $42,593 in debts, including a $10,000 settlement with the company that repossessed his truck, $5,265 in medical bills at Doctors Hospital and the rest in credit card bills. The bankruptcy was discharged on Sept. 28, 2009.

Hopper, now a history major at Augusta State University, attributes the bankruptcy to a serious illness for which he was hospitalized for nine days and left unable to drive the $120,000 tractor-trailer he’d recently purchased.

In August 2008, “I thought I’d try my own hand at running a business,” said Hopper, who had worked for trucking companies after graduating from Butler High School in 2002.

He leased a tractor-trailer and became his own boss, but soon Hopper said the long hours of driving caused him to ignore his health, and a minor cut turned into a serious infection that sent him to the Joseph M. Still Burn Center for two skin grafts on his right leg.

Hopper said he had hospitalization insurance, but it only reduced his medical bills by about half, to around $50,000. “Even then, of course I could not afford that,” he said.


Earnest Smith’s records show a 2004 state notice of $2,484 in unpaid income taxes and several years’ worth of penalties.

Smith, the Georgia House District 125 incumbent, attributed that to an error on the part of the U.S. Postal Service, his employer at the time. He said he cleared the entire matter up when he retired from the postal service.


Georgia Senate District 23 candidate Robert Ingham filed Chapter 13 bankruptcy in 2004 with $28,000 in debts and only $3,345 in assets. (His largest debt listed was a student loan of $13,756; the rest was regular bills and a couple of credit cards.) He was receiving a VA pension of $646 a month and earning $400 a month working as a substitute teacher for the Richmond County Board of Education. At the time, besides a 1991 Chevy Corsica and 1986 trailer home, he had no assets aside from personal and household items.

Since his discharge from bankruptcy debts, he was able to buy his home at 4053 Burning Tree Lane in 2011.

Ingham said in 2004 his bills overwhelmed him and he was unable to pay them off, so he declared bankruptcy for everything except an educational loan that was outstanding. “I was living beyond my means at the time; that’s what it boils down to,” he said.

– Compiled by Staff Writers Sandy Hodson, Steve Crawford, Kyle Martin, Tracey McManus and Susan McCord



  • Matt Aitken*: None-x
  • Bill Fennoy: None
  • Stanley Hawes: None
  • Denice Traina: None

x-Aitken was released from Coweta County Prison in April 1990 at age 31 after serving time on drug charges. He was pardoned by the state in 1990.


  • Mary Davis: None
  • Ed Enoch: None
  • Cleveland O’Steen: None


  • Kenneth Echols: None
  • Donnie Smith: None


  • Harold Jones: None
  • Marion Williams: Liens



  • Marion Barnes*: None
  • Lucien Williams: None


  • Jimmy Atkins*: None
  • Robert Cheek: Bankruptcy


  • Richard Roundtree: State tax liens, child support petition
  • Freddie Sanders: None


  • Ashley Wright*: None
  • Evita Paschal: None


  • Harry James: Tax liens, credit card debt
  • Carleton Vaughn: None


  • Charles Evans*: None
  • Kellie Kenner McIntyre: None


  • David Hopper: Bankruptcy
  • Earnest Smith*: Unpaid income taxes


  • Jesse Stone*: None
  • Robert Ingham: Bankrupcy


Comments (17) Add comment
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soapy_725 11/03/12 - 07:24 am
Let alone a deacon in his church

Use New Testament "deacon requirements" for public servants. Boy would that empty the pool of candidates. How can one manage the business of others when one cannot manage his own business.

Dreamers. Looking for a pie in the ski job. Money and more irresponsibility.

Political jobs are not real jobs. With real job rules and responsibilities. Political jobs rely on excuses, passing the buck and childishness.

Something to ponder.

soapy_725 11/03/12 - 07:26 am
Or a chauffeur for your children

Or your financial adviser.

Tots 11/03/12 - 10:21 am
About those liens,

that Roundtree said he paid off..What month and year did he pay them off?..... This does matter-Because the timeline would tell me if he was sorry about the mistakes he has made and if he had worked toward making amends...
As for the agreement with the childs mother on the child support,was that court ordered?
Only asking because my son has an agreement with his son's mom....WHOOP DE DOO!!!

Sweet son
Sweet son 11/03/12 - 12:12 pm
Can't manage personal finances!

Probably can't manage a large law enforcement agency. If elected better keep Ronnie Strength's top soldiers and use their expertise! Would be foolish not to!

rebellious 11/03/12 - 04:17 pm
Two observations

1st - Roundtree - I think this was covered sufficiently by OpenCurtain. And mark my words, if Augustans vote for this man, the only reason can be his skin color. To vote for, or vote against any person because of their skin color or gender is wrong, just wrong. And if that happens, we will reap what we sow.

Vote Freddie Sanders for Sheriff. Because he will uphold the LAW!

2nd - Cheeks - Lookit, I don't know the guy! I would have loved to have been able to see and hear him at several forums, but he opted to no-show. I do know what I have seen of his brother as an elected official. At first I thought that was going to be good for Augusta, then the true character came out. Ya'll remember, the twinship with Marion Williams, Canal on Ellis Street, that whole efficasy. Anyway, my point is they must have been raised in the same house and espouse the same views, to the extent that the North Augusta resident has spoken on his brother's behalf twice I have seen. And now this finding! Hats off to the Chronicle Staff for this article. And I know how finances can get turned upside down. In Cheek's explanation, I have to wonder about his business sense not to have set up a company as a LLC to avoid personal assets being at risk, but that's another post, for sure. Or maybe that is the core of the article.

At any rate, I will be voting for a proven leader and team player with experience in dealing with difficult State finance fund reductions while continueing to help District 8 schools show state recognized improvement.

Vote Jimmy Atkins

GiantsAllDay 11/03/12 - 04:27 pm
Roundtree's screw ups pale in

Roundtree's screw ups pale in comparison to Marion Berry's. Berry received a free pass from the voters of Washington DC. Do you think Roundtree's supporters give a tinker's damn about his above mentioned record? I'm afraid you're spinning your wheels, OpenCurtain.

Grandpa Jones
Grandpa Jones 11/03/12 - 04:35 pm
"To vote for, or vote against

"To vote for, or vote against any person because of their skin color or gender is wrong, just wrong. And if that happens, we will reap what we sow."

Rebellious, I have to agree 100 percent. Remember all those people who grabbed the Democratic ballot just to vote against the TREE. Now they got to choose between Anderson vs Barrow in the Congress race and Sanders vs Roundtree in the Sheriff race. Yep, so, true. People reap what they sow. LOL.

Sweet son
Sweet son 11/03/12 - 06:18 pm

Well said!!! Took the words right out of my mouth! I said in R&R that I was going to only say good things and I think that everything you said in your last comment was "good."

itsanotherday1 11/03/12 - 08:00 pm
Rountree, et al

Unfortunately, most of those that would vote for them can relate to the personal irresponsibility, so t isn't an issue. Color counts.

The rationale is the old, tired "well, everybody makes mistakes" routine.

rebellious 11/03/12 - 11:14 pm
Grandpa Jones

Let me try this again...

Your posts seems to indicate you think people voted across Party lines against Roundtree because he is a black man. I disagree with that stance, if that is an accurate depiction of your suggestions. And I agree, that because many voting across party lines this has presented an interesting dynamic in the Congressional race, to say the least.

I would proffer to you, however, that many who voted across lines did so because they were acutely aware of Roundtree and Peebles past indescretions and , shall we say, "Picadillos and Dalliances". They voted across party lines not for racial reasons, rather for reason of morals, ethics and personal prefernces along those lines.

Your take on this phenomenon is precisely at the very vortex of the cerebral malfunction which places us where we are in the current Presidential election.

While I respect your right to your opinion, I reserve my right to respectfully hold your opinion in contempt when placed against the scale of right and wrong.

Adrian27 11/04/12 - 12:09 am
If we check into your back

If we check into your back ground I am sure some things were's not paid on time or inaccurately reported. This is poor timing on the AC's part but we all know the true intention behind that. These people are not your saviors or fix it all. They are running for local office. Its a lot of work, decision making, long hours, and sooo much more. At the end of the day they are human.b Lets peak into the past of the current administration and past and oh what shall we see. But we dont want to talk about that. Roundtree for sheriff 2012. All candidates are current. Reread the article because it seems that you dont want to believe that. It is a qualification in order to run that everything is cleared up. It does not say when nor does it say you must be debt free, have perfect credit, or any of that. Its not a loan its a job. What more do you need? Aha maybe a birth certificate and college applications like they try to do to the president. But have we acted the same way with previous administrations? Of course not. Mallarky I say. Get a life and go to bed Roundtree for sheriff Roundtree Roundtree Roundtree Roundtree 2012. The chronicle says : The Augusta Chronicle comments are enabled for a robust but respectful conversation, not for personal attacks or harassment of others. Govern yourselves.

Tullie 11/04/12 - 06:27 am
Roundtree said:

Roundtree said the petition for child support was something he worked out with his son’s mother when she was going to remarry. He said it was a way of formalizing an agreement they already had.

Something he worked out? And what does her getting married have to do with anything? Her husband's income is not used for the formula. And he said a way of formalizing an agreement they already had..huh. This who thing sounds fishy to me.

OpenCurtain 11/04/12 - 09:24 am
Noted my list of documented Roundtree issues was deleted.

Considering it was 95%+ a rehash of the numerous Media stories on Roundtree over the years, I was initially puzzled why?

Then I had the wife re-read my original post.
Yep, sometimes it takes a wife to tell a husband he is wrong.

I over step the line between fact and implied innuendo, by asking how a person with his limited pay and overdue financial obligations could pay off all those debts so quickly.

This was innuendo and not fact.

When I am wrong, I fuss up, even with my wife telling me so.

OpenCurtain 11/04/12 - 09:18 am
A milder repost minus 2 improper innuendos

A man who refuses to debate his opponent.
A man that has had numerous financial problems in his recent past.
A man that has had multiple family & child problems.
A man with professional issues.
A Law Enforcement Officer that was demoted for job duty issues and forced to resign in disgrace.
A Ex-Law Enforcement Officer who mishandled evidence for murder cases.
An Ex-Law Enforcement Officer that was caught having sex with Female RCSO employees on the job.
An Ex- Law Enforcement Officer that has had more written about his past mistakes, problems and screw ups than any other RCSO Ex-Law Enforcement Deputy in the last 20 years.
An Ex- Law Enforcement Officer that is running on a watered down Racial platform seeking a "Historic Change".

While an active Law Enforcement Officer he used an Email Alias called: "Grateful Moth­er" to hide behind, promoted himself and cast insulting remarks at his employer(s).

Doubt anything listed above?
Read any of these and Search the AC or Google, or WRDW, or WJBF
for even more.

Using The Current Sheriffs quoted words.
Jillian Benfield asked Sheriff Strenght: "Why don't you think Richard Roundtree should be the next sheriff?"

Sheriff Strength: "I don't think...with his background...i don't think he is ready to be the Sheriff of Richmond County."
Strength cited Roundtree's past troubles with the department, specifically the incident that got him demoted...when he left case files at an apartment. Strength says the job is mostly an administrative one and that Freddie Sanders is the best choice.

In other words
He is just not qualified to hold the office.

JRC2024 11/04/12 - 09:22 am
Adrian, you can check my

Adrian, you can check my credit and payment history anytime. The score is above 800. A persons credit history is a good indication of how they handle their life and daily affairs. Bankruptcy, being sued and late payments are not a good indication of a well run life. Dichotomy you are 100% correct in your post.

avidreader 11/04/12 - 09:24 am
To Tullie:

I agree. A few back taxes do not bother me as much as the child support matter. Any man that will not maintain his financial obligation to his children is not much of a man. I also agree that his explanation is a bunch of hocus pocus, revealed to fool the public.

Augusta resident
Augusta resident 11/04/12 - 10:50 am

What a horrible bunch of candidates. I'm actually going to have to take notes with me when I go vote. No wonder my taxes go up. What a bunch of pitiful excuses they gave too.

Msmamm 11/04/12 - 11:15 am
Assume ...

Why do people assume to know why someone chooses who they vote for? Voting is a personal decision that we each make. And no matter how informed or uninformed we may be ... it comes down to our personal choice regardless of the reason. Just VOTE!

itsanotherday1 11/04/12 - 11:30 am
When reading the excuses for

When reading the excuses for Roundtree, see my Sunday 7pm post. Also note the candidates the AC checked out who DON'T have a record of irresponsible financial behavior. Obviously, "everybody makes mistakes", or "everybody has issues" is patently false.

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