The recent death of U.S. Southern District Senior Judge Anthony A. Alaimo has saddened me.
As a young reporter working in Augusta back in the early 1980s, I covered several stories involving Judge Alaimo. One was a big bank fraud case involving several prominent Augusta residents, while the other involved stories related to the Augusta Police Department.
On occasion, I even visited with Judge Alaimo in his chambers. I found him to be one of the finest men I've ever had the pleasure of getting to know. He was a man of integrity, honor and was deeply dedicated to his profession. He also was a man highly respected by everyone around him.
Although tough when he had to be in handing down sentences against those convicted of crimes, Judge Alaimo also was compassionate and a great listener. He had a passion for what he did and did it to the best of his ability.
Judge Alaimo always stood firm on decisions. He never wavered. The reason he didn't was because he already had pondered the facts and evidence of a case. He was a man who took his job seriously.
I've always said that any job a person has should suit them. The job of senior judge certainly suited Judge Alaimo. He was extraordinarily good at what he did. And above all, he always was fair.
Judge Alaimo died at a hospital in Brunswick on Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2009. He had served on the bench for nearly four decades. He was 89.
Born in Sicily, Judge Alaimo immigrated to the United States with his parents in 1922. During World War II, he piloted B-26 bombers, which I found fascinating after reading a recent article. In 1943, he and his crew were shot down and he was taken prisoner. German soldiers held him in captivity for almost two years before he managed to escape.
He was a man dedicated to serving his country -- a real American hero!
I remember Judge Alaimo acting on affirmative action cases involving the Augusta Police Department and how black officers had been discriminated against for ranking positions. He watched over that matter closely and made several rulings, which finally led to black officers getting promotions like they deserved. I admired him for standing firm on that issue.
I also admired how he handled a major drug smuggling case that stretched from Lincoln County, Ga., to South America in the early 80s. I was one of the lead reporters covering that case and was ordered held in protective custody as a material witness on an order by Judge Alaimo.
This Friday, Judge Alaimo will be laid to rest.
I shall always remember this most honorable man.