The countdown has already begun for the much-anticipated release of former state Sen. Charles Walker from federal prison.
This week, The Augusta Chronicle shamelessly teased readers by posting a story with the headline, “Charles Walker out of prison,” on its homepage.
Walker was far from “out of prison.”
He was simply being transferred from the federal prison in Estill, S.C., where he has been held for almost 10 years, to another facility.
Walker’s official release date isn’t until September 26, 2014, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
For those readers who just moved to the Augusta area (because that is the only possible way folks have never heard of Walker), former state Sen. Charles Walker, now 66, was found guilty of 127 felony counts of conspiracy, mail fraud and filing false tax returns.
In 2003, the federal government issued a 66-page indictment accusing Walker of several crimes including stealing money from his charity football event, the CSRA Classic Inc.; using his position as one of the most powerful legislators in Georgia to pressure the then-Medical College of Georgia and Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta to spend millions of dollars hiring employees from his temporary employment agency, Georgia Personnel Services; substantially inflating the circulation numbers of his newspaper, the Augusta Focus, to defraud advertisers; and spending his campaign contributions for personal use.
On top of all that, the indictment alleged Walker attempted to hide his ownership in both Georgia Personnel Services and the Augusta Focus in order to receive business from state agencies, like MCG (now, GRU), while skirting Georgia’s ethics laws and conflict of interest statutes.
Along with his 10-year prison sentence, Walker was ordered to pay approximately $790,000 in restitution.
The media and many of Walker’s long-time supporters are eagerly anticipating his release because Walker was such a heavy hitter when he held office.
In fact, Walker had high hopes of becoming Georgia’s first black governor, but that all ended the moment his guilty verdicts were read.
Augustans are curious to meet the new Charles Walker when he finally steps away from his prison sentence.
Ten years is a long time. Prison can’t help but change a man.