James Robert "Bobby" Womack, who retired as Jenkins County sheriff in July while under investigation by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the FBI and a state commission over allegations that he used inmates for personal labor, died Saturday.
Mr. Womack, 69, who had been battling cancer, died at about 3 p.m. at Jenkins County Hospital, said Jenkins County Coroner Robert Fields.
Tim Fields, the Democratic candidate for Mr. Womack's former position, said he grew up with Mr. Womack's son and had good memories of the man.
"Despite all his trouble, he was a good man. and he served Jenkins County well," said Mr. Fields, the coroner's son. "I hate that the last years of his life were riddled with turmoil."
Mr. Womack cited poor health when he resigned from the sheriff's office three months ago.
"I have struggled recently with health problems, which prevent me from serving my office with the energy I have in the past," Mr. Womack wrote in his letter to Gov. Sonny Perdue.
At the time of his resignation, Mr. Womack was facing possible suspension from office by Mr. Perdue.
A May 23 article by The Augusta Chronicle jump-started the state and federal investigations. The article reported that 31 probationers, parolees, state prisoners and former convicts said they worked for the sheriff while incarcerated or knew of other inmates who had worked for him.
If the allegations had been proven, Mr. Womack could have been charged with several breaches of state law, including violation of oath of office, use of inmate labor for personal gain, racketeering and conspiring in an escape in cases where felons were allowed to leave the jail unsupervised.
Reach Kate Lewis at (706) 823-3215 or firstname.lastname@example.org.