Why is it, for the past several years, that right around Masters Week the public suddenly hears again about the troubles of local businessman Tim Shelnut?
Is someone intentionally try to embarrass Shelnut on a national stage or is it just bad luck on his part?
A few days before Masters Week again this year, The Augusta Chronicle reported that an arrest warrant for contempt of court had been filed against Shelnut.
The contempt of court is regarding Shelnut’s back alimony he owes his former wife following their divorce in 2010.
Earlier this year, the Chronicle reported that Shelnut was ordered to pay his ex-wife, Virginia “Sam” Pannill, approximately $375,087 or report to jail for contempt.
Once again, Shelnut has filed a petition for bankruptcy.
This same scenario occurred a few years ago in 2014 when Shelnut was arrested on charges of contempt of court because he failed to pay almost $200,000 in alimony.
Shelnut spent two months in jail before reaching a settlement with his ex-wife.
And here we go again.
The Charles B. Webster Detention Center is a far cry from his once lavish, multi-million-dollar home.
Almost 20 years ago, Shelnut was flying high.
Once a high school dropout, he became known as one of the richest men in the Augusta area.
Shelnut often boasted that he had been involved in the “financial-services industry” for more than 30 years.
In the late 1980s and 1990s, he spent 14 years as president and owner of Washington Annuity Sales, building the firm into one of the country’s fastest-growing major providers of 403(b) annuities, with assets totaling $6 billion.
He sold the company to the Northern Life Insurance Company of Seattle in 1996.
Shelnut then became the chairman and owner of Four Seasons Securities of Augusta, a national marketing firm specializing in retirement planning and tax-sheltered annuities.
In addition, he was president and CEO of Shelnut Properties, Ltd., a private real estate firm based in Augusta.
Shelnut had everyone in town talking.
He was the recipient of the 1998 National Philanthropist of the Year Award after becoming the first donor to contribute $1 million to University Hospital in support of its juvenile diabetes program.
But he also dabbled a lot in Georgia politics.
Stories about his lavish political parties at his home and his personal helicopter were legendary.
Shelnut could do no wrong in Georgia because, after all, money talks.
In 2000, Georgia Gov. Roy Barnes appointed him to the Board of Regents, an 18-member governing body for the University System of Georgia.
The board basically manages the state’s university system, which is comprised of 34 public colleges and universities, more than 250,000 students and approximately 36,000 faculty and staff.
Upon his appointment to the Board of Regents in 2000, Shelnut resigned as a member of the Georgia Lottery Corporation’s board of directors, where he supposedly “worked on issues involving public education financing.”
A short five years later, Shelnut was elected chair of the Board of Regents.
Things were going great for Shelnut until about 2008, when the State Ethics Commission issued a $40,000 fine against him because he violated state ethics laws.
It was the largest civil penalty the State Ethics Commission has ever assessed an individual, The Augusta Chronicle reported.
The penalty was a result of Shelnut acknowledging that he made “campaign donations in excess of state limits and giving $24,000 to others to make donations in his name from the mid-1990s to 2004,” the newspaper reported.
Shelnut’s world quickly began to crack.
That same year, he filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy, listing $9.18 million in assets and $6.49 million in liabilities, the Chronicle reported in 2008.
Apparently, it was an extremely complicated bankruptcy that initially began in June 2008, but continued for more than five years until it was finally settled in 2013.
And now Shelnut has filed a second petition for bankruptcy just this year.
It might be time for Shelnut to sell all his assets, settle his bills and ride off into the sunset.
Otherwise, he may find himself with a permanent place in jail.