Pat Swindall fights in court on multiple fronts

This summer, alone, the former congressman, who was convicted of perjury 21 years ago in federal court, and wealthy landlord was indicted on charges of making illegal campaign contributions in an Atlanta council race.

That case put him in the crosshairs of one of his tenants, Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard, whose office rents space from Swindall for its cold-case squad and victim-services unit.

The previous month before the indictment, he sued the directors of his homeowner association in Fulton County Superior Court.

Swindall, 59, claims the St. Ives Country Club Homeowner Association is illegally using radar to issue speeding fines on the private roads in the gated community in Johns Creek where Swindall moved in 2002. In the lawsuit, Swindall, who county records show lives in a 9,476- square-foot house he bought for $1.7 million, said the directors  stole $425 from him by using part of his $750 check for his association dues to pay speeding fines his household had accrued.

The lawsuit, which Swindall is asking the court to make a class action that would allow other neighbors to join in, is expected to be in Superior Court for that case Monday.

"Regardless of whether they were speeding, defendants illegally used radar to determine whether they were speeding and it is 'shocking to the ... moral sense' for defendants to circumvent the law in order to reap the benefits of having done so," Swindall said in the lawsuit.

Swindall was similarly shocked when he was convicted on nine counts of perjury in 1989.

Reached on Saturday, Swindall declined to comment until he could talk to his attorney for the criminal charge.

Swindall most recently made the news last week when he tried to throw his flea market tenants out of their stalls at the Old National Village shopping center on Golby Road in College Park. Swindall had lost the lease on the building and he told the more than 100 vendors he was going to tear down the walls of their stalls and they could relocate to his new location. The tenants said that the property management said they were free to continue to operate at the current location.

The confrontation ended when College Park's chief code inspector, Oscar Hudson, told Swindall he had to back off -- regardless of whether he had the right to tear down the walls of the booths, which he claimed were movable fixtures. "I told him to pack up his stuff and leave and not touch anything," Hudson said. "I told him he needed a permit."

Swindall applied for the permit Wednesday. Hudson said he wouldn't be getting one until the vendors and property owner had their day in court. "Even if the court says he can demolish (under the terms of the lease), I would not give him a permit until everybody gets their stuff out," Hudson said.

Swindall's lawyer in that case, Richard Robbins, said they were not going to comment on the case.

Swindall once seemed destined for fame rather than notoriety. The wealthy son of a furniture store owner, he graduated from the University of Georgia in 1972 and got a law degree there in 1975. Nine years later, the young Republican won the congressional seat for the Georgia 4th District at age 34 and won re-election two years later.

Swindall then lost the heavily-Republican seat to a Democrat, Ben Jones, the actor who played "Cooter" on the "The Dukes of Hazzard" television show, after he was indicted for perjury in a money laundering case.

His nine convictions -- three of which were later overturned on appeal -- were part of a sting operation in which the then 4th District congressman negotiated for an $850,000 loan with a money launderer and an undercover federal agent, who told him the money came from illegal drug operations.

At the time, Swindall, a born-again Christian, blamed the location of the trial -- Atlanta -- for his conviction but promised to "go with a good attitude" "if God chooses for me to go to prison."

He then spent nearly five years trying to overturn the convictions and the one-year sentence until a fed-up federal judge told him to report to prison in 1994.

Except for a 1997 police raid on his other flea market on Peachtree Street downtown -- which police at the time described as a marijuana market -- Swindall seemed to stay out of the legal spotlight until this summer. A Fulton grand jury indicted him on felony and misdemeanor charges involving $8,000 in illegal campaign contributions to the 2005 campaign of City Council woman Joyce Sheperd. At the time, Sheperd was facing a tough election challenge from former councilman Derrick Boazman.

Investigators accused Swindall of funneling illegal contributions through two businessmen who were also indicted.

Karen Fletcher, a neighbor of Swindall, said she had known him, his wife and seven children since they moved to St. Ives Country Club from Stone Mountain.

She was aware some of the controversies, trials and tribulations but she described an all-American family who favored tennis over golf and had just added a new puppy -- a Yorkshire Terrier named Blanket -- to the mix.

"They're actually a lovely family," she said. "You pray that someone isn't on a witch hunt and then I turn off the TV because I don't want to hear it."

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