Charles "Rick" Tomlin's efforts to appeal as a pauper have raised questions with a federal judge presiding over his case.
Tomlin, sentenced last month to 20 months in prison for lying about a hefty fine from a federal agency, filed the appeal last week through his current attorney, David Jones.
Jones, of the Atlanta firm King, King & Jones, didn't respond to a request for comment Monday.
But he and Tomlin will have to provide some answers to Senior District Judge William C. O'Kelley on March 21.
O'Kelley has ordered Tomlin to appear in federal court and explain why he can't afford an attorney or the filing fees for his appeal.
O'Kelley also wants to know the nature of Tomlin's appeal, since it wasn't listed in the notice filed in court last week.
In an order filed March 8, O'Kelley said he has "several questions" about Tomlin's inability to pay.
He's asked Tomlin and Jones to bring a copy of the agreement they have for payment for the services Jones provides.
Jones defended Tomlin against charges that he made false claims that the Environmental Protection Agency fined his business $272,000 for environmental grievances.
Tomlin owns Street Dreams, a vehicle repair business that was once located on Old Cornelia Highway in Gainesville. It has since moved twice. It is now located in Cleveland.
A request Tomlin filed with the court states that the negative attention surrounding his conviction has caused Street Dreams to lose business.
The form states that gross monthly income for the business "was" $1,100, but Tomlin claims no current income.
Tomlin was found guilty of the false claims in December. Prosecutors called the scheme an attempt to avoid paying rent on his business, which was then located in Gainesville.
The lie was considered a federal crime after the EPA spent time and money trying to figure out whether it had a rogue agent or an impersonator was extorting money from area businesses.
For it, O'Kelley ordered Tomlin to pay $43,331.49 back to the EPA and serve 20 months in prison. Tomlin was also ordered to pay a $5,000 fine and to serve three years of parole.
The prison sentence was scheduled to begin on March 20. But O'Kelley's March 8 order changes the date to March 23.