State Sen. Michael Williams. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

‘Deportation bus’ candidate pleads not guilty to fraud charges

A former Republican candidate for governor has pleaded not guilty to charges that he made a false report that computer servers were stolen from his campaign office shortly before his last-place finish in the May primary.

Michael Williams, a former Republican state senator, has requested a jury trial ahead of an arraignment hearing on Wednesday. His attorney, A.J. Richman, has said his client “looks forward to his day in court.”

The charges issued in December by Hall County authorities relate to a May incident where Williams reported that his Gainesville office was burglarized. At the time, his campaign said $300,000 worth of computers servers were taken from the building. 

Williams is accused of lying to a Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent when he said he was at home in Forsyth County, not in the Gainesville area at the time of the purported burglary. 

The indictment, which doesn’t say what allegedly actually happened to the devices, accuses him of making a false insurance claim related to the servers.

In an Atlanta Journal-Constitution story published a day after the alleged theft, his campaign manager said the servers were being used to mine cryptocurrency.

Williams came in fifth place out of five candidates in the May Republican primary for governor. He based his campaign on loyalty to Donald Trump and a series of ill-fated publicity stunts, including a “deportation bus.”  

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