Just a couple of weeks ago, I recommended some books for summer reading. My list came out a little too soon: Otherwise, the federal indictment of Charles Walker would have been included.
By now you've no doubt heard all about it. Still, it's worth putting down the latest novel to pick up the 66-page indictment of Walker and his daughter.
John Grisham it's not, but boy, it sure has a plot. And Walker is in the thick of it.
Walker and his daughter are facing 142 charges in federal court of stealing money in creative ways. The indictment says Walker left much of that money on gambling tables in Biloxi, Miss., Las Vegas and Atlantic City.
The gambling allegations jogged a memory. About five years ago, my family flew to Philadelphia. The airport also is convenient to Atlantic City.
I was surprised to see Walker on the plane, wearing a golf shirt with a casino logo. I greeted him and quickly quizzed him about the shirt. He was in Atlantic City for a "conference," he said.
Some conference. The federal indictment says between 1996 and 2003, Walker lost about $530,000 gambling. I wonder how much money, during that same period, Walker dropped in the collection plate at the churches he relies on for political support?
Anyway, it's exciting reading. You can download the entire file by clicking on The Augusta Chronicle's link from this site, or going to www.augustachronicle.com.
Walker is now running for office in the same district as state Sen. Don Cheeks. Before being ousted by state Sen. Randy Hall in 2002, Walker was partly responsible for the horrible redistricting in Georgia that put just one Columbia County precinct in Cheeks' district.
He then tried to put a lackey into the race against Cheeks with hopes that, if she won, Walker would get control over all Columbia County legislation.
At the time all this was happening, we noted that a lot of Columbia County residents were sending campaign contributions to Walker. His latest disclosure for the current race, filed April 1, shows only a few Columbia County contributors: Fairway Ford in Evans gave Walker $2,000; Christ-ine Miller-Betts, director of the Lucy Craft Laney Mu-seum who lives in Grove-town, gave $250; and psychologist David Proefrock of Martinez gave $1,000.
Perhaps these folks would now like to give to Walker's legal defense fund?
Don't forget Williams
I'd be remiss, by the way, if I didn't comment on the recent indictment of Robin Williams, a former state representative.
Williams and I grew up together, and he tried to get me to come work for Com-munity Mental Health just over a year ago. Fortunately I turned it down, because that's the agency whose troubles led to Williams being hit with a pile of federal charges.
A lot of people were skeptical of the situation with Community Mental Health, including me, which is why I stayed away. The feds were skeptical, too, which is why they indicted a handful of people for raiding its funds.
While Williams served in the Georgia House, Walker's Richmond County delegation asserted that Williams' district included all property along the Augusta Canal, which put Williams into Columbia County and on our local delegation.
State Sen. Joey Brush and state Rep. Ben Harbin went along because they worked well with Williams, even though they both said the setup was unfair.
Their own skepticism took a long time to kindle before they also quit sharing an apartment in Atlanta with Williams. It took a bit longer for Brush, whose re-election headquarters for several years was in a Columbia Road office shared by a company, ICC, that figures into Williams' indictment.
Can this stuff possibly get more tangled? It's enough to make you want to chuck the news and pick up a book.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to email@example.com.)
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