Unfinished Business

A son denied becomes a festering campaign issue haunting Commissioner Eggelletion as Election Day approaches

Since the ruling, Eggelletion has done nothing for Omar. She says he's a deadbeat dad, whether the courts deem him as such or not.

"He's not really a father at all," says Omar, who is 20.

But then the summer came and Eggelletion called Sanders. Suddenly, he wanted to help her. But first, she would have to do something for him.

The former schoolteacher made an offer for her silence that Angie Sanders could refuse.
C. Stiles
The former schoolteacher made an offer for her silence that Angie Sanders could refuse.
Sanders testified that she was a high school student when the affair began.
Laura Massa
Sanders testified that she was a high school student when the affair began.

Sanders' BlackBerry tells some of the tale.

On July 19, the phone's records show calls from Eggelletion to Sanders' BlackBerry. While she waited for him at the Starbucks store, she texted a friend, Kay Dixon.

"Goin out with Joe tonite," she wrote at 8:59 p.m.

Eight minutes later, she wrote Dixon again: "Waitin on him he swears that Jackson is using my name and picture illegal to promote his [campaign] he said I can get thousands quick!!!!"

"Hear him out but agree to nothing," Dixon wrote back at 9:29. "Tell him u need to think about it. Joe is lookin out for Joe."

When he finally arrived, they sat at an outside table so he could smoke his cigar, though it sat unlit in his mouth the entire meeting. The plan Eggelletion described to Sanders was simple enough. She would deny the high school affair and threaten to sue his opponent, Jackson, if he tried to use it in the campaign.

"What I have in mind is I hook you up with one of my attorneys and get him to write a letter to Allen Jackson saying that, if he uses your name, there will be legal consequences," she says he told her. "I want to write this letter just to put him on notice."

The July 19 meeting was actually their third rendezvous on the subject, the other two occurring in his office on State Road 7. She says Eggelletion shared with her several campaign secrets during their talks. He told her he had sheriff's reports on Jackson showing that he had assaulted a girlfriend (Jackson has never been charged with such a crime). He also told her he had dirt on John Billingsley regarding "misrepresentations" of his education.

He told her that polls showed that he was going to win the commission post (which pays $84,000 a year) fairly easily, but he planned to "blast" Jackson and Billingsley shortly before the election anyway.

Eggelletion also spoke about the paternity suit.

"It almost cost me my career," she says he told her. "I was even not going to run at one time. I will tell you, this Omar thing is hurting me now."

She asked him what she could do.

"You do a lot," he told her. "The person who throws the stones is the person who can fix it."

Basically, she looked at it as a bribe to lie and influence the outcome of a campaign. She slept on it. And instead of writing Jackson a letter from one of Eggelletion's attorneys, she called him on the phone and told him about it.

"This isn't about politics," Jackson says. "This is about a guy who chose to be arrogant, pompous, and prideful. And he chose to discount what he did to an innocent girl. It speaks directly to his character, his personality, and who he truly is."

Two weeks ago, she wrote a letter to Florida Gov. Charlie Crist asking for an independent investigation of Eggelletion for statutory rape and bribery. While what Eggelletion did could be considered statutory rape, the State Attorney's Office ruled that the statute of limitations had run out on the case years ago.

Sanders may never get the justice she believes she deserves, but she now has something better: a new grandson. So does Eggelletion. Omar's girlfriend had a baby boy, Omar Jr., on July 1.

To help support his new family, Omar is joining the Army and is expected to start duty next month. He also intends to marry his girlfriend.

"I know how it is not having a father, and that's why I'm 110 percent being with mine," says Omar, who lives in Savannah. "I don't have a relationship at all with Joe. I reach out to him. I call him several times. I try to talk to him. He never returns my calls. It's kind of a hurtful situation, because I had nothing to do with the situation they were involved in. But it's making me a stronger person and a better father."

When he first called Eggelletion to tell him the news, he said the first thing the commissioner told him was to get a blood test to make sure he was really the father.

"Not knowing me at all, not knowing my future wife at all, and he tells me to get a blood test," Omar says. "I wish he could see him — he looks exactly like me. Just like I look exactly like Joe."

Eggelletion said he would come and visit, but he never did. Omar says his father makes a lot of promises he doesn't keep. "When the election was coming around, he promised me a lot of things," Omar says. "He told me he was going to have me down there to campaign with him. He said he was going to come up and see the baby. Of course, he never did."

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