North Georgia district attorney sentenced to six years in prison for fraud

Former District Attorney Tim Madison was sentenced last week to 6 years in a Georgia prison for his role in a scheme to steal money from Banks County. Madison pleaded guilty to a number of counts, but they all basically involve the same crime – taking money from county funds that he was not authorized to take.

He convinced Banks County to pay a salary to an assistant district attorney who was already being paid by state funds. Madison and the attorney then split up the extra salary. Madison also admitted falsifying time cards for his wife who was on his payroll at the time. The other charges – false statements and violating his oath of office – were part of the scheme to cover the fraud.

The Athens Banner Herald did an excellent job of covering this case from start to finish.

Madison got 6 years to serve, but the total sentence is 12 years – the first six will be served in prison, the remainder on probation. In reality, Madison will most likely only serve 2 or 3 years before being paroled, considering his age and the improbability of recidivism. He also has to pay $40,000 in restitution. The sentence imposed by the judge sets forth the prison term and the conditions of his probation.

I’m not sure where Madison will actually serve his time. Other Georgia officials convicted in public corruption cases have often been moved to out-of-state federal facilities, especially if they are former law enforcement officers. If he went to a Georgia prison, he may run into one of the people he prosecuted. Not a good thing for the former “tough on crime” D.A.

The Georgia Attorney General’s Office asked the judge to impose an 8 year sentence. Madison’s defense lawyers asked for a long term of straight probation. No doubt that Madison had two of Georgia’s best criminal defense lawyers representing him, but it appeared that the judge had already made up his mind. Perhaps he was influenced by the tough stance Madison used to take on plea deals and sentences for theft cases. He probably would have given himself 10 years to serve.

Madison had served as District Attorney in that circuit for over 25 years. On Saturday, he will begin serving his sentence in the Banks County jail. It’s a big change. Some local attorneys thought the sentence was too harsh, but defense lawyers and prosecutors that know Madison consider the sentence an appropriate one. Most criminal defense attorneys that have gone up against Madison agreed with Georgia’s Attorney General – “Madison’s sentence was not only consistent with the harm that Madison wreaked on the Piedmont Circuit, but was also consistent with sentences that Madison himself had sought from accused or convicted thieves in similar cases.”

The case is not over. Charges still remain pending against Madison’s wife and the assistant district attorney who agreed to the scheme to divert part of his county salary. Their trial date should be set by March 25.

It’s going to be a long, tough road for Tim Madison. But it’s hard to feel sorry for him. I never personally tried a case with him, but other defense lawyers tell me he got what he deserved. I doubt he would have shown any mercy if he had been the D.A. prosecuting someone for theft of public funds.

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