- The Washington Times - Friday, March 10, 2006

ATLANTA (AP) — Former Mayor Bill Campbell was acquitted yesterday of lining his pockets with payoffs while guiding Atlanta through a period of explosive growth, but the jury convicted him of tax evasion.

Campbell, 52, could get up to nine years in prison and $300,000 in fines, but legal specialists have said it’s doubtful he would receive the maximum sentence.

The federal jury took a day and a half to acquit Campbell of racketeering and bribery after a seven-week trial.

Campbell had no visible reaction as the verdict was read.

Later, outside court, he said he had “great regrets” that the jury convicted him of anything. “I know that I’m innocent,” he said.

Campbell, who remained free on bail, served two terms as mayor from 1994 to 2002.

Federal prosecutors charged that he ran the biggest city in the South with a “what’s-in-it-for-me” attitude and regarded contractors who wanted to do business with Atlanta as “human ATMs.”

Prosecutors said he took more than $160,000 in cash, campaign contributions, junkets and home improvements in exchange for city contracts and spent it on gambling trips to Mississippi River casinos and other getaways with his mistresses.

The defense countered that Campbell’s extra money came from his gambling winnings and speaking engagements, and that Campbell’s subordinates had used his name without his knowledge to enrich themselves.

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