News 12 at 6 o'clock / Tuesday, June 26, 2012
COLUMBIA COUNTY, Ga. -- An Augusta lawyer is doing community service after a guilty plea earlier this month.
Only News 12 can you show photos of Joe Neal Jr. as he started his first day of community service at a local sewage plant. We learned he has a connection to the place that kicked us off their property.
The well-known attorney was reduced to tears in a sordid rape trial ending in a plea deal. That deal brought him to Reed Creek Water Treatment Plant for 100 hours of community service. He reported for work at 8 a.m. Tuesday morning.
"He will be doing a lot of manual labor," said John Maldonado, Treatment Operations manager in Columbia County. "He will be doing a lot of outside work ... a lot of hard work."
We snapped a photo of the overall-clad disgraced attorney moments before management kicked us off the property that has a stench that seems to linger.
"I don't want to say that I kicked you off the property," Maldonado said. "I asked you all to leave because I believed Mr. Neal deserved his privacy."
Management thought better of the decision and allowed us back just minutes later. Mr. Neal was no where to be found.
Maldonado says Neal has a history with the plant.
"He did a civil case for the wife of an employee that was murdered here," he said.
Managers insist there was no special treatment. They showed us a list of Neal's chores that called for sweeping and mopping buildings, removing all bugs in light fixtures and knocking down all spider webs inside and outside of buildings.
Maldonado says he wished Neal had chosen a different location.
"It was made known to Joe that we would like him to go to Richmond County," he said. "I wasn't very happy about it because it is a high-profile case, and we have enough to do every day. I don't really like a microphone in my face."
In court, Neal pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct, giving alcohol to someone under 21 and drug possession. As part of the deal, he had to pay $3,000 in fines and perform 100 hours of community service. It's unclear how many hours he's served so far.