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Bill Campbell, former Atlanta mayor indicted on racketeering

The Associated Press - ATLANTA

Former Mayor Bill Campbell was indicted Monday on charges of racketeering and wire fraud following a five-year federal investigation into City Hall corruption during his administration.

Campbell is well down a list of suspects unearthed in the probe as 10 other people involved with the former mayor's administration from 1994 to 2002 have been convicted of corruption. Some were members of Campbell's staff; others had business contracts with the city during his tenure.

Campbell has repeatedly denied the allegations _ even before the federal indictment was passed down _ saying the probe was a "witch hunt of unbelievable proportions."

Steve Sadow, the former mayor's attorney, implied two weeks ago that U.S. Attorney Sally Yates had single-handedly spearheaded the investigation. "Sally Yates will give birth to this baby alone," Sadow said previously. "They've used five years to intimidate and pressure individuals who have committed their own crimes."

Telephone messages left for Yates and Sadow at their offices Monday were not immediately returned.

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Atlanta, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Internal Revenue Service scheduled a news conference later Monday to discuss the indictments against Campbell.

Campbell has been suspected of awarding an additional $80 million to United Water, which had received a 20-year, $21.4 million-a-year contract to operate the city's water system. Campbell has said he never authorized the payments and lacked the authority to do so.

Federal authorities also have investigated a $5,000 payment Campbell received for a 1996 luncheon speech given to employees at a communications company that was bidding for a citywide telecommunications contract.

Campbell and his attorney knew the indictment was coming as early as Aug. 17 when they announced a federal grand jury was hearing evidence against the former mayor. Sadow said then that the U.S. Attorney's Office had agreed to notify him when the Campbell was indicted so that his client could appear in court without being arrested.

The attorney said even before the indictment that he had prepared Campbell's defense, and "It won't be 'he said, she said.'"

"Since he's innocent, it makes it easier on our part to find the evidence that exculpates him," Sadow said.

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