Originally created 12/16/05

Walker begins term in prison

Former Sen. Charles Walker turned himself in Thursday at a federal prison in South Carolina.

Unless transferred or freed on appeal, Mr. Walker, 58, will live at the Federal Corrections Institution in Estill, S.C., for the next decade.

The facility houses medium- and minimum-security federal prison inmates. It is about 84 miles southeast of Augusta.

Mr. Walker and his attorneys had hoped an emergency petition with the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals would enable him to remain free on bond until a decision is made on his appeal for a new trial.

The federal appeals court in Atlanta denied Mr. Walker's request Wednesday, according to the court's Web site.

Mr. Walker has 10 years and one month to serve in prison for crimes committed in various schemes to enrich himself with other people's money.

He was convicted of 127 felony counts June 3 and sentenced late last month. Federal sentences are served without parole, although an inmate is generally transferred to a halfway house at least six months before the expiration of his sentence.

U.S. District Judge Dudley H. Bowen Jr. had allowed Mr. Walker to remain free on bond after his conviction and sentencing. Judge Bowen ordered Mr. Walker to begin his incarceration Thursday.

Mr. Walker is the second former state politician from Augusta to move into the Estill prison this year. Last month, former state Rep. Robin Williams was taken to Estill to begin serving a 10-year prison sentence.

Both men were convicted of crimes related to theft and fraud. Mr. Williams conspired with four others to loot the local Community Mental Health Center. Mr. Walker used his position as a political and civic leader to siphon money illegally from advertisers for his Augusta Focus newspaper, two public hospitals, campaign contributors and the CSRA Classic charity event he founded.

Although Mr. Walker paid fines and special assessments adding up to more than $200,000, he didn't pay restitution into the federal clerk's office before reporting to prison Thursday.

Mr. Walker, and his companies convicted along with him, owe $698,047 in restitution, mainly to the CSRA Classic.

Attorney Donald Samuel said Thursday that the defense team is trying to fashion a means to hold the money at the court until the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rules on Mr. Walker's appeal.

If Mr. Walker is successful on appeal, he cannot ask private entities for a refund of restitution money, especially if one is no longer in business, Mr. Samuel said.

Reach Sandy Hodson at (706) 823-3226 or sandy.hodson@augustachronicle.com.

Next for Walkers

- Charles Walker still owes almost $700,000 in restitution that U.S. District Judge Dudley H. Bowen Jr. ordered him to pay "immediately."

- The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will rule on his appeal after receiving the record from the lower court, briefs from both sides and possibly after oral arguments.

- Mr. Walker's daughter Monique Walker Hill is scheduled to be sentenced Monday on a misdemeanor count of filing a fraudulent tax return.


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