WARNER ROBINS — Trouble seems to keep following John Williams.
Williams, the elder statesman of the Warner Robins City Council at 71, has led the charge on several projects in his 30 months on the council that have had great impact. But his alleged activity outside of council chambers has put him in the headlines this month — the latest of which could find him facing jail time.
Williams brought a construction background to City Hall when he joined the council in 2008, quickly finding a use for it through advising on projects at Commercial Circle and coming up with suggestions in the battle about the city’s new law enforcement center. Mayor Chuck Shaheen, who was sworn in six months ago, said Williams brings a lot of knowledge to the table and works very hard for the citizens.
“He’s really been a hard-working councilman,” Shaheen said. “He’s got a big heart and wants to help the people. He gets discouraged if he can’t help all the people.”
But for every accomplishment on council, there’s a controversy away from City Hall.
A probate court judge recently ruled the will of Williams’ sister, Marjorie Saunders, was a forged document. Saunders, who died in April 2009, left most of her possessions to her oldest son and “ten dollars and all my best wishes for health and happiness” to her husband, Nathaniel Saunders.
Nathaniel Saunders and Williams got into a brawl last June after Saunders tried to get inside his late wife’s North Pleasant Hill Road beauty shop, where the couple had been living upstairs. Williams has said he thought the man was trying to steal.
Just after the probate ruling, Williams received an e-mail from Warner Robins resident Neal Erwin, saying Williams should resign his post on the council because of the way he handled the family drama. Williams said he went to Erwin’s home one night after getting the e-mail to discuss the man’s disapproval.
The next day, Erwin called the Warner Robins Police Department to file a complaint against Williams, claiming the councilman peeked through his windows and blocked his driveway during that visit. Williams has denied those claims.
The latest incident, which began June 20 and has resulted in several back-and-forths between Williams and police officials, could see Williams taken off the council and possibly jailed.
Williams said he left his city-issued cell phone in a booth at the Waffle House at 1501 Watson Blvd., then returned to the restaurant to retrieve it. He asked a woman in the booth if she had seen the phone.
“I didn’t take your phone,” Williams remembered the woman saying.
He said police later found the phone and returned it.
That’s not the whole story, Warner Robins police officials said.
Police reports suggest Williams made up the story about the missing phone, even implicating a homeless woman who was inside the restaurant. When police began looking for the phone, Williams took off, then returned with two juveniles in tow. One of them stuck by his side while the other disappeared during the search. He reappeared just after an officer said he’d found the phone, the teen coming from behind a building in the same area where the phone was found.
Williams was charged Wednesday with tampering with evidence, making a false statement, false report of a crime and two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Williams has declined to comment on the situation.
Before the charges, he fired back at members of the Warner Robins police, including officers involved in the hunt for the cell phone and Chief Brett Evans. He said the actions by the department were retaliatory, mostly for his inability to vote for a new law enforcement center to be built atop Jimmy Perkins Memorial Field.
Evans declined to comment on Williams’ allegations.
To contact writer Marlon A. Walker,call 256-9685.