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Published:March 8th, 2006 14:10 EST
Prosecution Rests in Corruption Trial of Former Atlanta Mayor

Prosecution Rests in Corruption Trial of Former Atlanta Mayor

By Jennifer Gibson

After five weeks of testimony from former business associates, aides, friends and one mistress, the prosecution rested its case Tuesday in the federal corruption trial of former Atlanta mayor, Bill Campbell.

Campbell, 52, was indicted in August 2004 on charges of racketeering, corrupt payments, and tax violations.  If convicted, he could face up to 10 years in prison.

Nine people have already been convicted of charges stemming from their involvement with Campbell’s administration.  Jurors heard testimony from several of them throughout the prosecution’s case. Fred B. Prewitt, friend of Campbell and former chairperson of the city’s Civil Service Board, pleaded guilty in 2000 to filing false income tax reports on nearly $600,000 paid to him by contractors in exchange for city work.  Prosecutors contend Prewitt accepted the money with Campbell’s knowledge, although Prewitt testified Campbell was not aware of the transaction.

However, another witness said he directly bribed Campbell.  Dan DeBardelaben, former head of Atlanta job training and self-described “golfing buddy” of Campbell, testified that he gave Campbell $55,000 in exchange for work related to the city’s Y2K contract.  Campbell’s attorneys say DeBardelaben originally told authorities he had never given Campbell money, but changed his story after being threatened with prosecution for tax evasion.

Some of the most important testimony came from Campbell’s former mistress, Marion Brooks.  Brooks testified that she and Campbell, a married man, carried on a four-year affair.  She spoke of the large amounts of money Campbell carried on him, including $16,000 cash she said he lent her for a down payment on a condominium.  Defense attorneys say the money was a result of several big gambling wins, but Brooks testified Campbell told her he “almost all the time broke even” when gambling.

Campbell has steadfastly denied any wrongdoing.  He said he believes those testifying against him have either been paid off by the government or were coerced into in by threats of prosecution for other alleged crimes.  He chose not to take the stand in his own defense.

Closing arguments in the case begin Wednesday, March 15th.  The case could go to the jury by the end of the week.

Campbell was a member of the Atlanta City Council for 12 years before being elected mayor in 1993.  He easily won re-election in 1997.  After leaving office in 2001, he and his wife moved to Florida where he is currently practicing law.  During his time in office, he was named one of the country’s top 25 most dynamic mayors by Newsweek magazine.