When Augusta Commissioner Bill Fennoy spilled the beans this week that former state Sen. Charles Walker was in town having surgery at Georgia Regents Medical Center,
he might as well have blown a hunting horn all throughout Augusta.
Every local media outlet is dying to be the first news station or paper to feature photos of Walker after 10 years in federal prison.
What will Walker, who was once the second-most-powerful politician in the entire state of Georgia, look like after a decade behind bars?
While Walker’s official release date isn’t until Sept. 26, 2014,s according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Fennoy’s big mouth told all of the Garden City that Walker has apparently been commuting to work in Augusta from a transitional center in Columbia, S.C.
Walker will likely want to thank Fennoy personally for divulging that information.
With friends like Fennoy, who needs enemies, right?
So for the next several weeks (and perhaps even months), expect members of the local media to be cruising Monte Sano Avenue to see if there is any activity at Walker’s $600,000 home on the Hill. They will also be keeping an eye on his office building, The Walker Group, on Laney Walker Boulevard to see if anyone is parked in the space that is officially reserved for Walker.
It seems like everyone in town, whether you are a supporter or critic of the former senator, wants to see the man who was forced to serve 10 years after being found guilty of 127 felony counts of conspiracy, mail fraud and filing false tax returns.
People are just fascinated with Walker, who once had high hopes of becoming Georgia’s first black governor, but that all ended the moment his guilty verdicts were read.
The federal government brought Walker down.
In 2003, the feds 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.
Along with his 10-year prison sentence, Walker was ordered to pay approximately $790,000 in restitution.
It was a very heavy price to pay for someone who, at one time, seemed completely untouchable.
Augustans want to see his face. Hear his voice. And close that chapter.
So, let the search for Walker begin.