By Mehgaan Jones
The security chief for Clayton County Public Schools pled not guilty to a felony bribery charge, during a Clayton County Superior Court arraignment, on Monday.
John Taylor Walker, Jr., was not present in court on Monday, as his plea was announced. Walker's attorney, Denise Allen, appeared on his behalf, but declined to comment on the charges, or the plea.
Walker allegedly attempted to bribe Clayton County Magistrate Court Judge Daphne Walker (no relation), to influence her decision on the selection of a vendor that would work for Clayton County's Superior, State, and Magistrate courts, according to the indictment against John Walker.
Judge Walker was a "member of the selection committee for the request for proposal process, evaluating contracts between vendors and Superior, State and Magistrate courts of Clayton County," the indictment says. Clayton County Chief Assistant District Attorney Erman Tanjuatco explained to the Clayton News Daily, last week, that the contract was for a probation-monitoring company for the courts, which included Southeast Corrections, LLC, as one of the companies seeking to obtain the contract.
Tanjuatco also said that John Walker was working as a "liaison" for Lawrewnceville-based Southeastern Correction, LLC, in November 2009, when the alleged, attempted bribe took place.
Schools security chief Walker allegedly offered a campaign contribution to Judge Walker, in an attempt to influence her decision on which company would get the contract, according to the indictment issued on Oct. 20.
The amount of the campaign contribution offered to Judge Walker is not specified in court documents.
"Chief Judge Daphne M. Walker immediately referred the matter involving John Taylor Walker, Jr., to District Attorney Tracy Graham Lawson, in November 2009 for investigation," said a news release issued by the office of Judge Walker. "As a result of the investigation, Mr. Walker was indicted by the Clayton County Grand Jury for bribery, on October 20, 2010," the statement continued.
Judge Walker declined to make any further public comments, according to the statement. The felony charge is punishable by one to 20 years in prison, with a fine, according to Chief Assistant District Attorney Tanjuatco.
Last week, Walker was still working for the Clayton County Public School System, despite the allegations. "Nothing has changed with the status of his [Walker's] job, to my knowledge," said Charles White, a spokesman for the school system. He added that the school system was unaware of Walker's outside work with Southeast Corrections.
Judge Matthew O. Simmons presided over Monday's arraignment. Senior Litigation Assistant District Attorney Stephen N. Knights, Jr., represented the county.