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Convicted business owner's prison sentence delayed
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A Gainesville business owner convicted of making false claims that government agents fined his business was granted a 10-day delay in reporting for prison on Wednesday to address other pending court cases.

Charles "Ricky" Tomlin was sentenced to 20 months in federal prison and a $48,000 restitution fine to the government in February. That sentencing came after he was found guilty of fabricating a story in which the Environmental Protection Agency assessed $272,000 in fines against his auto repair business.

He is the owner of Street Dreams, a vehicle repair and customizing business formerly located on Old Cornelia Highway and now located in Mount Airy.

While awaiting his prison sentence, Tomlin is also facing two other pending criminal charges in Habersham County stemming from "dissatisfied customers" of his business, according to a defense motion.

Tomlin's attorney, David Jones, requested a 60-day delay in serving his prison sentence to resolve those charges at hearing at the federal district courthouse in Gainesville Wednesday. Tomlin was scheduled to surrender himself to his serve his sentence on Friday.

Tomlin's attorney, who is appealing last month's sentencing, also filed a motion for bond pending the outcome of the appeal. That motion was denied by Senior Judge William C. O'Kelley, who also reduced the requested delay in reporting for prison from 60 days to 10.

Prosecutor Paul Jones argued against the sentence delay — pointing out that Tomlin was not only facing other criminal charges unrelated to this case but civil cases as well. Some of Tomlin's customers are claiming he also committed fraud against them. The prosecutor said it could be a lengthy affair for Tomlin to finish all pending legal matters.

"That's going to be a never-ending process with Mr. Tomlin," the U.S. attorney said. "He has been a dishonest businessman."

The prosecutor also added that while Tomlin is not a physical danger to the public, he "quite likely passes as a financial danger."

Senior Judge William C. O'Kelley agreed to allow Tomlin limited time to work on his other criminal cases before serving his sentence, but closed the door on a lengthy prison postponement.

Tomlin will now have to report for sentencing on April 2.

In late 2010, Tomlin contacted an agent with Georgia's Environmental Protection Division, claiming the federal agency had fined him for environmental problems on his business' property.

Meanwhile, his landlord said Tomlin did not pay rent on the property, and federal agents said Tomlin refused to cooperate with their investigation.

They later determined that Tomlin made the story up, prosecutors say, but only after he sent EPA officials on "a wild goose chase."

At sentencing, Tomlin was ordered to pay $43,331.49 in restitution to the EPA. He will also have to pay an additional $5,000 and serve three years of parole after the prison sentence.

In his appeal, Tomlin's attorney is arguing the defendant shouldn't owe restitution to the government.

As part of the appeals process, Tomlin is taking on attorney David Jones as court appointed claiming he can no longer afford to pay for an appeals lawyer.

The defense attorney said Tomlin's "financial status has changed" since the trial. Tomlin's repair shop had lost business, likely due to coverage of the trial, and he was no longer collecting rent one of his properties, his attorney said.

The prosecutor confirmed that, based on his research, Tomlin had "no substantial assets to pay for an attorney."

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