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Thornton, who subsequently received a chunk of the $360 million dirt contract, pleaded guilty in 2001 to making illegal campaign contributions, but even then prosecutors didn't show how Campbell himself was involved in the fraud.
Then there's Joe Reid, the city's deputy chief operating officer, who told the feds he received two gift boxes from a computer contractor, each containing a billfold stuffed with $5,000, and passed them on to his boss and Campbell chum, Larry Wallace. The understanding, Reid told prosecutors, was that the money would fund a casino outing for Wallace and Campbell.
The computer company, Spectronics, was later paid $105,000 in what city officials creatively termed a "reseller's fee" -- in other words, money for nothing -- as part of a contract to another firm.
If the prosecutors' portrayal is accurate, the ex-mayor was more careful to cover his tracks than some fellow pols. Then-Fulton County Commission Chairman Mitch Skandalakis and Commissioner Michael Hightower both served time after feds discovered they'd taken bribes from telecommunications contractor George Greene.
Prosecutors say Campbell took his own squirrelly payments from Greene, not in the form of a parking lot handoff, but as a $5,000 honorarium for giving a 30-minute lunchtime pep talk to Greene's employees -- what would seem to be a textbook example of plausible deniability.
There are a few instances, however, where it's easier to connect the dots, depending on whom you believe.
Dewey Clark, a man who had lived for six years in Campbell's basement, claimed he had served as the bagman between Club Nikki owner Michael Childs and the mayor, delivering a total of $50,000 in bribes intended to persuade Campbell to approve a liquor license.
Jerry Froelich, Campbell's aggressive defense attorney, hinted to jurors Monday that he expected to tear Clark and others apart on the witness stand: "I'm looking forward to cross-examining Mr. Clark."
The feds also could go back as far as the airport corruption scandal in the early '90s, which saw Councilman Buddy Fowlkes, Hartsfield Manager Ira Jackson, and two airport contractors packed off to the slammer. One of those contractors, Harold Echols, claimed to have paid bribes to Campbell (and Arrington, to boot). For reasons never entirely made clear, Campbell wasn't indicted. Instead, he was elected mayor.
More recently, there's DeBardelaben, who says he put $55,000 in Campbell's hands, money that came from computer contractor Barber, who's admitted he was trying to bribe the mayor.
Finally, there's the matter of the United Water contract. During his final days in office, the city water commissioner refused to approve an $80 million contract increase for the city's water contractor, despite constant pressure.
But a few months after Campbell left office, the contract resurfaced -- with Hizzoner's signature. Campbell said he had no idea how his John Hancock wound up in seven different places on a contract benefiting a company that once spent $12,900 to treat him and Wallace to a lavish trip to Paris.
A handwriting analyst is expected to testify that the signatures indeed belong to Campbell.
As Councilwoman Moore notes, "It looked like Bill's signature to me."
While federal prosecutors and defense attorneys are typically tight-lipped about their respective trial strategies, a few hints can be gleaned from the 117-item questionnaire given last week to potential jurors. Sprinkled among the standard queries designed to identify conflicts of interest and prejudice were a handful of zingers, such as: "Do you feel that someone who has had an extramarital affair is probably dishonest in all areas of life?"
If there was any lingering doubt that prosecutors are planning to drag a few of Campbell's personal skeletons from the closet in their quest for a conviction, that question erases it. The public rumors that Campbell had a girlfriend date to 2001, when prosecutors spoke to former WSB-TV anchorwoman Marion Brooks about trips she took with the mayor on chartered jets that were allegedly paid for by city contractors. On Monday, Yates spoke in the plural when talking about Campbell's alleged affairs.
But defense attorney Martin tried to contain the damage to his client's character: "In spite of the so-called affairs, he never missed a basketball game for his kids."
The ex-mayor's wife, Sharon Campbell, was in the courtroom seated directly behind her husband. They have lived in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., since they left Atlanta three years ago. Campbell became a partner in the firm headed by Willie Gary, a flashy litigator known for huge jury awards and a private jet. (Curiously, Campbell isn't listed among partners on the firm's website.)
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