Former legislator Walker to be released from federal prison

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Charles Walker, who was once one of the most powerful political leaders at the state capitol, is to be released from federal prison Friday after serving nearly nine years for his conviction on fraud and conspiracy charges.

Walker’s impending release was first reported Thursday by the Augusta Chronicle:

He was sentenced to 121 months of confinement which would have ended in January, 2016, but he earned 474 days for good behavior. In December, the 66-year-old entered an Atlanta halfway house.

Since April, he has been subject to home confinement except when he was working. . . .

His release from the custody of the Bureau of Prisons means he is no longer subject to the agency’s rules. Next, he will be subject to the supervision of the U.S. Probation and Pretrial Services System for the next three years, unless he convinces a judge the supervision is no longer necessary.

Walker, an Augusta Democrat, was a highly influential legislator during the period when Democrats still controlled the governor’s office and the General Assembly.

He rose to the position of Senate majority leader and was a key supporter of Gov. Roy Barnes during Barnes’ single term in office.

Walker, like Barnes, was swept out of office in the Republican wave of 2002 that saw the election of Sonny Perdue as the state’s first GOP governor in more than a century. Republicans gained majority control of the Senate and then the House of Representatives over the next two years.

Although Walker made a comeback in 2004 and won reelection to the Senate, he was also indicted by a federal grand jury on 142 counts of mail fraud, conspiracy, and income tax evasion. He was convicted on 127 of those charges in 2005 and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Two of Walker’s political contemporaries from the Augusta area ran into legal problems and wound up serving prison sentences at the same time he did.

Linda Schrenko, a Columbia County educator who served as state school superintendent from 1995-2003, received an eight-year prison sentence in 2006 after she pleaded guilty to embezzling federal education funds. She had used the purloined money to pay for cosmetic surgery and fund her unsuccessful 2002 campaign for governor.

Robin Williams, a Republican House member from Augusta who was defeated for reelection in 2000, was convicted in 2005 of bribery, theft, health-care fraud, conspiracy and money laundering and given a 10-year federal prison sentence.

© 2014 by The Georgia Report

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Tags: Charles Walker , federal prison sentence , Georgia Senate