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Officials: Former state senate candidate Brian Roslund dies from self-inflicted wound

By Ben Wright

benw@ledger-enquirer.com

Less than a week before his trial on racketeering and theft by taking charges, former state Senate candidate Brian P. Roslund shot himself and died Tuesday, authorities said.

Roslund, 31, was pronounced dead at 3:20 p.m. at Midtown Medical Center in Columbus, according to Harris County Coroner Joe Weldon. There will not be an autopsy, he said.

David McLaughlin, chief of special prosecutions in the Georgia attorney general’s office, said Roslund didn’t show up for jury selection Tuesday in the case that was set for trial on Dec. 7. Around noon Tuesday, McLaughlin said he heard that Roslund had been shot.

“Obviously, this is a tragedy,” McLaughlin said late Tuesday. “Our thoughts are obviously with Mr. Roslund’s family.”

Among the one count of racketeering and 27 counts of theft by taking, Roslund was accused of taking more than $11,000 from the Friends of Roosevelt’s Little White House in Warm Springs.

He was in court Monday in Meriwether County when the judge called the case for trial. All parties were instructed to return Tuesday to pick a jury.

The trial was expected to last two to three days.

When Roslund didn’t appear by 10 a.m., the judge issued a warrant for his arrest and forfeited his bond. “We actually left the court about mid morning,” McLaughlin said.

Christopher Nance, an investigator with the Pine Mountain Police Department, said a person reported around 9:30 a.m. Tuesday that they saw someone slumped over in a vehicle in the First Baptist Church parking lot in Pine Mountain.

It appeared the man had been there for 10 to 20 minutes before police were called, Nance said.

Roslund, a Democrat, was unsuccessful in his challenge against incumbent Republican Josh McKoon in the Senate District 29 race in November 2014.

Roslund qualified to run for the office in March 2014 while he was president of the Friends of Roosevelt’s Little White House in Warm Springs. He is accused of withdrawing cash 27 times from the charity’s bank account through the use of “counter checks.” The amount totaled more than $11,000 from the charity. Money was alleged to have paid for campaign-related expenses and a rental home in Senate District 29.

The indictment states another $15,000 in checks was written on bank accounts that contained little to no money or had been closed before the checks were written. Roslund filed false campaign disclosure reports with the commission that stated more than $52,000 in campaign contributions had been received, thousands of dollars had been used on campaign expenditures and thousands dollars were on hand in the 2014 election season, according to the indictment. Roslund was accused of inflating campaign donation amounts and falsifying donors.

A person convicted of racketeering faces up to 20 years in prison. A conviction on theft by taking charges could net up to 15 years in prison on each count.

The state Department of Natural Resources was asked to look into the organization’s finances after concerns from volunteers. The Friends of Roosevelt’s Little White House is one of 54 chapters that operates across the state with about 6,000 volunteers.

The probe went to the attorney general’s office before it was investigated by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

— Reporters Sarah Robinson and Chuck Williams contributed to this report.

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