Former Mayor Bill Campbell Indicted

WXIA-TV (Ga.), Aug. 30

A federal grand jury has leveled a multi-count indictment against former Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell on corruption charges.

Federal prosecutors revealed the indictment Monday morning that brings charges ranging from civil acts of racketeering—including income tax evasion—to bribery that reach back to 1997. In “The United States of America v. William C. Campbell,” the indictment claims Campbell replied “What’s in it for me?,” in the spring of 1999, when a computer contractor tried to secure work providing Y2K services to the City of Atlanta.

The indictment also states: “The defendant’s objective was to conduct and control the business and affairs of the City, directly and indirectly through City employees, through a pattern and a practice of misconduct and illegal acts, including the violation of the laws of the United States and the State of Georgia, for the personal, pecuniary, and political benefits of himself and others.”

Earlier Monday, Steve Sadow, Campbell’s attorney, told 11Alive’s Jerry Carnes that he hadn’t had a chance to review the indictment and wanted to do so before making an official comment on his client’s behalf.

Campbell has steadfastly denied any wrongdoing during his two terms as mayor. Most recently, the former mayor called a news conference at a southwest Atlanta church, where he vehemently defended his character, service while mayor and touted his passing a polygraph.

Campbell said, “I never took any official action in exchange for cash, gifts, campaign contributions or any other remuneration. I never received anything of value in exchange for taking any official actions as mayor.”

The indictment, however, claims: “From, in or about 1997 to 2004 in the northern district of Georgia, defendant William C. Campbell, as elected public official of a municipality, aided and abetted by others known and unknown to the grand jury, knowingly and willfully and directly and indirectly solicited, received, accepted and agreed to receive things of value, payments of money from computer contractors by inducing the reasonable belief that the giving of the thing of value would influence defendant’s performance and failure to perform an official action.”

The U.S. Attorney’s Office, Internal Revenue Service and Federal Bureau of Investigation released the 48-page report detailing their five-year investigation at a 10:30 a.m. news conference Monday. Authorities are expected to elaborate on the matter at another news conference at 11:30 a.m.

Their efforts, the indictment says, are targeting corruption in Fulton County and city of Atlanta governments. But, at least one claim says the corruption may have extended to Campbell’s personal, and not merely professional, gain.

Federal prosecutors claim Campbell had air conditioning installed at his former Atlanta home through fraudulent means. Campbell allegedly used wire and mail fraud, in addition to receiving a $10,000 cash payment, to get a $20,000 air conditioner installed at his home.

It’s not known if Campbell is currently in Atlanta. He relocated to Florida, where he practices law, but is believed to have recently gone to North Carolina to attend a funeral for his mother. She passed away less than a week ago.

Campbell has steadfastly denied any wrongdoing during his two terms as mayor. Most recently, the former mayor called a news conference at a southwest Atlanta church, where he vehemently defended his character, service while mayor and touted his passing a polygraph.

Campbell said, “I never took any official action in exchange for cash, gifts, campaign contributions or any other remuneration. I never received anything of value in exchange for taking any official actions as mayor.”

Beginning in 1999, a grand jury started its probe of Campbell regarding allegations of engaging in corrupt activities during his tenure at Atlanta City Hall. Specifically, the jury examined Campbell’s method of awarding city contracts.

Several of the former mayor’s associates have already pleaded guilty to bribery and other charges stemming from the federal investigation.

Last May, former Deputy Chief Operating Officer Joseph Reid received a two-year sentence and $3,000 fine for taking bribes from Vertis McManus, a city contractor.

A federal judge also sentenced McManus, the former vice-president of Spectronics Corporation, to a 13-month prison term and levied a $30,000 fine against him. McManus also pleaded guilty to bribery charges and admitted to giving illegal campaign contributions to Campbell’s re-election campaign.

Prosecutors claim McManus gave $19,500 in bribes to Reid and $56,000 in bribes to former Atlanta Chief Operating Officer Larry Wallace. The latter is serving a 46-month prison term, and after his release will be supervised for three years and must serve 150 hours of community service.

Others arrested in the probe include:

—Former Commissioner of Administrative Services Herbert McCall,—12 months in prison, $3,000 fine, 3-year supervision after his release and 150 hours of community service

—Former city deputy Joseph Reid

Reid’s attorney called his client “critical and instrumental” in bringing down several high-ranking City of Atlanta officials who’d violated the law. Reid and McManus are two out of nine defendants already convicted under the federal probe targeting Campbell’s administration.

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