Originally created 08/22/06

Atlanta's ex-mayor reports to prison



ATLANTA - Former Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell's once flashy lifestyle was replaced Monday by the tedium of a Florida federal prison camp, where a tiny cell and monotonous grunt work will welcome him.

The two-term mayor began his 2-year prison sentence for tax evasion at Miami's Federal Correctional Institution, a jarring fall for the one-time rising Democratic star.

Mr. Campbell presided over one of the most prosperous periods in Atlanta's history, helping to transform its skyline and governing the city as it held the 1996 Summer Olympics.

He became the target of a years-long federal investigation into corruption at Atlanta City Hall, which also led to the conviction of 10 of Mr. Campbell's subordinates.

During the trial, prosecutors tried to prove that Mr. Campbell had taken more than $160,000 in illegal campaign contributions, cash payments, junkets and home improvements from city contractors while he was mayor from 1994 to 2002.

He was convicted of three counts of tax evasion in March and ordered to pay more than $60,000 in back taxes. But a federal jury acquitted him of bribery and racketeering charges stemming from accusations that he lined his pockets with payoffs from city contractors while he was Atlanta's leader.

Mr. Campbell and his attorneys said the acquittal was a vindication, and they plan to appeal the tax evasion charges to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.

"We maintain that once the 11th circuit receives our full appeal, that we will prevail and that Mayor Campbell will be released," said Mawuli Davis, Mr. Campbell's attorney.

Mr. Campbell first made a name for himself as a 7-year-old in Raleigh, N.C., where he integrated the city's school system as the lone black child at Murphey School.

He moved to Atlanta to join a law firm, and at 28, he became a city councilman. Anointed by Maynard Jackson, Atlanta's first black mayor, Mr. Campbell sailed to victory in his first mayoral election.

He left the city with a budget deficit and failed to fix the city's crumbling infrastructure.