November 30, 2005
Judge Bowen also came down hard on three of Walker’s businesses, finding them guilty of conspiracy and fraud. News 12 looks at the future of one of those businesses, the Augusta Focus weekly newspaper.
Metro Courier owner and publisher Barbara Gordon knows the ins and outs of running a small newspaper. She’s been in business for 23 years.
“I don’t have 20 reporters like the larger papers might have, the smaller papers have to establish very strong relationships,” Gordon said.
Like Barbara Gordon, former state senator Charles Walker runs a small paper, the Augusta Focus. In federal court, Walker and three of his businesses were found guilty on conspiracy and fraud charges in June. On Tuesday, a federal judge sentenced Walker to 10 years and one month in federal prison.
“Senator Walker is a very smart person and I am sure he prepared just in case worst case scenario so to speak,” Gordon said.
The Augusta Focus has been in business for nearly 25 years, but will the small newspaper that operates out of the Walker Group be able to survive after being ordered to pay $212,000 in restitution? And in addition, the owner Charles Walker himself ordered to pay more than $698,000 in restitution.
At Augusta Focus offices, the former senator wasn’t talking about the future.
“It puts another twist in the situation for them, but I think they are going to do okay,” Gordon said.
Partly because of the paper’s history, local readers, and supporters of Charles Walker.
“If you get the right team of writers, good sales staff, Senator Walker over the years has built a lot of alliances and they are going to support the paper and if you are somebody’s friend you should be there for them during hard times,” Gordon said.
Barbara Gordon says with a dedicated base, the Augusta Focus will not go away that quickly, if at all.
In addition to Walker’s $700,000 in restitution he has to pay, the Augusta Focus is paying $212,000 in restitution. The Walker Group must pay more than $306,000 in restitution. The Focus, The Walker Group and Georgia personnel must also pay fines.