Water Industry News

Former Campbell aide admits taking payoffs

DeWayne Martin got immunity deal 2 years ago

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Another of former Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell's top-level administrators has admitted taking illegal payoffs, according to statements given to federal authorities.

In a statement given under a grant of immunity in the ongoing probe of the Campbell administration, former interim Chief Operating Officer DeWayne Martin told authorities in 2002 that he accepted illegal payoffs while working at City Hall.

The revelation, first disclosed by Campbell's defense team, comes as Campbell's attorneys are bracing for a federal indictment after a five-year investigation of corruption at City Hall. Campbell has strongly denied taking payoffs or engaging in illegal campaign fund-raising.

Martin has been cooperating in the investigation since July 2002, according to a statement he gave the FBI, which does not mention whether Martin accepted payoffs on Campbell's behalf.

Contacted Wednesday, Martin would not reveal any details about the payoffs.

But the edited version of an FBI document detailing Martin's statements to authorities a version provided by one of Campbell's attorneys Wednesday shows that Martin admitted receiving money "on a number of occasions."

On one occasion, Martin acknowledged accepting $7,000, according to the FBI document, which had names and passages deleted and blacked out.

Martin's lawyer, Ed Garland, said Wednesday that Martin "regrets mistakes he made while employed in city government." Garland also deplored the Campbell defense team's decision to release Martin's statements.

"The attack made on DeWayne Martin reflects a fear on the part of the Campbell camp and is an effort to intimidate an honest government witness," Garland said. "DeWayne Martin will not be intimidated and will testify truthfully if called as a witness."

Steve Sadow, one of Campbell's attorneys, questioned Martin's honesty.

"I would think that everyone would want the truth to come out and not be concealed," Sadow said Wednesday. "If Martin was so honest, why did he take corrupt payments when he was a public official?"

Noting that federal authorities knew Martin's admissions for two years, Sadow said it was "disturbing that the government would allow an admitted corrupt public official to continue to practice law on an unsuspecting public."

A spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office declined to comment Wednesday.

Garland said Martin can provide federal prosecutors information as to how City Hall operated.

After news of his bribery admission surfaced this week, Martin resigned Tuesday from his position at the Atlanta law office Greenberg & Traurig.

Martin is the second top-ranked Campbell official who acknowledged taking a bribe. Larry Wallace, another former chief operating officer, is serving time on a bribery conviction. All told, 10 former Atlanta government officials and city vendors have pleaded guilty or been convicted of corruption charges.

Once a trusted associate of Campbell's, Martin worked for eight years with the mayor's office. During the final weeks of the Campbell administration in November 2001, Martin got involved in negotiations between the city and United Water, which was seeking an $80 million increase in its contract to run the city's water system.

When Atlanta Water Commissioner Remedios del Rosario refused to sign off on the increase, Martin called her into his office, she said in a 2002 interview. "The mayor wants you to sign these documents now," del Rosario said Martin told her. In the interview, del Rosario said she refused.

Martin has said that he, too, was under pressure at the time from Campbell to settle things with United Water. "I felt like I was caught in the middle," Martin said in another 2002 interview.

Campbell's signature ended up on documents granting United Water the requested $80 million hike. The documents were discovered months later after Mayor Shirley Franklin took office, triggering an uproar. The city eventually dropped United Water.

Campbell vehemently denied ever "knowingly" signing the documents giving United Water the $80 million.