SPRINGFIELD - Former longtime Springfield Mayor Robert Walker is facing insurance fraud charges.
Walker was arrested Thursday by the Bay County Sheriff's Office on a warrant issued by the Florida Department of Financial Services. They say Walker committed insurance fraud when he allowed an employee of his construction company to continue building a house knowing they did not have workers' compensation coverage as required by law.
According to the Probable Cause Affidavit, Carl Woodall, a Bureau of Workers' Compensation Compliance Investigator, was conducting compliance checks on November 6, 2012. Woodall stopped at a house under construction at 105 Central Avenue in Panama City. The two workers on site told him they worked for Walker.
Woodall checked the state’s workers' compensation database and found that one of the two workers did not have coverage. So he issued a stop work order.
Nine days later, Woodall filed a complaint with the Department of Financial Services saying Walker violated the stop work order.
We asked the Florida Department of Financial Services why nearly a year passed between the alleged crime and Walker's arrest. They tell us Walker filed a petition with the department’s Bureau of Compliance, challenging the stop work order. The bureau eventually determined the stop work order was properly issued and that continuing to work after that was a third degree felony.
Walker is out of jail on a $2,500 bond.
In 2010, Walker was investigated by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for charging $2,100 of personal debt on the city's credit card. He also racked up a $1,600 utility bill, refusing to pay until he was reimbursed for his golf cart which was totaled when he loaned it to the city.
The FDLE found no criminal wrong-doing, but concluded Walker's actions showed he may be taking advantage of his elected position. Investigators strongly suggested the city improve its business practices.
Walker was Mayor of Springfield for 17 years. He was defeated in April by current Mayor Ralph Hammond