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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Re Examining the Case of State Senator Charles Walker

For more than a decade State Senator Charles Walker was among the most if not the most powerful politicians in the state of Georgia. His reign came to a humiliating end in June of 2004 when he was indicted on 142 separate counts of corruption related charges. His indictment read like an alphabet soup of terms straight out of your favorite law or cop show: wire fraud, conspiracy, tax evasion, extortion. If it was on your favorite lawyer show, he was probably charged with it. Of those 142 charges, he was convicted on 127 counts.

The scope and breadth of his crimes was staggering, shocking, and ultimately it is the back bone of the widespread corruption that is currently leading to the potential closing of Grady Hospital. Walker used a network of power and influence to either get into bed with powerful people or strong arm those that refused to play ball. For instance, Walker ran a newspaper and anyone that wouldn't play ball would be threatened with negative publicity from his newspaper. He used his ability to procure government funds as a string to get hospitals to hire temps at his temp company.

Here is where the case gets shocking. After being convicted on 127 counts he was sentenced to ten years in jail. Now, normally, when someone receives such a light sentences after being convicted of so many things, we would assume that he flipped on others. In this case, he didn't. In fact, besides Walker, his daughter, and the companies they ran, NO ONE, NO ONE, was charged or convicted of anything. Furthermore, the authorities would have us believe that the proper sentence, without ratting out anyone, for 127 separate convictions is ten years. There are people busted with drugs that are serving more time than that. It seems the corruption that Walker pulled off was nothing compared to the corruption involved in investigating and executing his case.

In fact, we don't need to speculate as to whether or not others were involved in the corruption. One only needed to be in the courtroom on the day that Joyce Harris, the chief prosecution witness, testified. According to a source that was there when she testified, she accused Walker of demanding a quid pro quo. Grady is a public hospital. Walker, who again was one of the most powerful politicians in Georgia, was able to influence just how much money they received. He demanded that the temp company he ran hire up to 50 people per day (if you read the link Grady normally hired a handful per day) in order to receive funds. Harris testified to a lot more than just Walker. She accused Grady CEO Ed Renford, and Tim Jefferson Chief Legal Counsel of Grady, of threatening her safety if she blew the whistle. She accused Robert Brown, President of the board of Trustees of Grady Hospital, of accepting kickbacks and sexual favors. She accused William Casarella, Chief Medical Officer at Grady, of looking the other way. Yet, despite these incendiary accusations and 127 separate convictions of Walker, the powers that be at Grady were never investigated.

In other words, first, the authorities would have us believe that this guy was able to pull off so much criminality that it lead to the conviction on 127 separate counts, and that he pulled all of this off on his own. Furthermore, the authorities would have us believe that a proper sentence for the conviction on 127 separate charges is ten years in prison.Furthermore, right around the time that Walker's trial was ending, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in the Dept. of Health and Human Services issued a report on Grady. Here is the conclusion of the report.

the conditions at your hospital pose an immediate and serious threat to the
health and safety of your patients
You think that is shocking. What is really shocking is what happened to all of the players that were not only involved in the corruption of Walker but the conditions that lead to the scathing conclusion of that report.

The only one to lose their job as a result of the Walker scandal was Joyce Harris the one person who tried to stop the corruption. Ed Renford retired with a pension that pays him six figures per year. Tim Jefferson continues in the exact same position. William Casarella was actually promoted within Emory University. Robert Brown did eventually lose his sweetheart position but that was due to a separte scandal.

The reason this is important is because Grady is on the verge of collapse and its collapse threatens the entire medical system in Atlanta and Georgia. As a friend and Atlanta resident recently told me, the people the are the most scared are the other hospitals because Grady treats the patients no one else wants. Now, the legislature is debating whether or not to feed Grady with millions of more dollars. Make no mistake, Grady is in this mess because it is obscenely corrupt, and the exact same people that caused the corruption continue to be in power now. If they are fed more money, that is the ultimate throwing good money after bad.

If people are serious about saving Grady the first thing they need to do is clean house. You cannot save Grady if the same people that put it in this mess are in charge of getting it out. I hope the good people of Georgia will wake up to the obscene levels of corruption that have put this essential hospital on the brink of collapse and that they demand that the resolution is once and for all no longer the same old same old.

(Updated)Much of the story about Grady Hospital is so confusing that anyone that winds up in the middle is likely to be confused. I don't believe that this particular one is an example of this, however, you should also know how State Senator Charles Walker fits into the entire puzzle so to speak. Thus, I have put together a summary of the entire fiasco that tries to put all of its moving parts together in one piece. Please read it for guidance. Also, please check out the recommendations that I and my colleagues have put together for fixing Grady Hospital.

Also, please follow this link so that you can hear me and a colleague discuss the Walker case along with several other matters related to Grady and Emory.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I would like for someone to get back to me regarding sen, charles walker and the events in Atlantic city for almost 15 years.
e-mail dollardot21@yahoo.com