Former Mayor Bill Campbell, who presided over one of the most prosperous and dynamic periods in Atlanta history, was sentenced Tuesday to 2½ years in prison and fined $6,300 for tax evasion.
Campbell, 52, was convicted in March. He was cleared of charges he lined his pockets with payoffs as he guided Atlanta during the 1990s. But he was found guilty of failing to pay taxes on what prosecutors said were his ill-gotten gains.
While praising some of Campbell’s accomplishments as mayor, U.S. District Judge Richard Story said he was overcome with a “pall of disappointment over the breadth of misconduct in his administration.”
Sentencing guidelines had called for 2½ years to 3 years and one month in prison. The judge also ruled that Campbell owed $62,823 in back taxes.
Campbell, who was ordered to voluntarily surrender to police at a later date, said he was confident he would prevail on appeal.
“What we saw today was an attempt, unfortunately, to undo the jury’s verdict,” he said. “This is not justice. I never betrayed the public trust.”
Campbell’s defense team argued that Campbell’s two decades of public service were grounds for leniency. But Assistant U.S. Attorney Russell Vineyard said that if the former mayor “seeks credit for the good things that happened on his watch, he must also take credit for the bad.”
The government spent millions on a seven-year investigation into city hall corruption, which also led to the conviction of 10 of Campbell’s subordinates.
During the trial, prosecutors tried to prove that 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.
Instead, he was convicted on just three counts of federal tax evasion, and acquitted on racketeering and bribery charges — a verdict he and his attorneys painted as a vindication. Campbell was once considered a rising star for Democrats.