After a 12-year stint as a city councilman Bill Campbell served as mayor of Atlanta from 1994 to 2002, overseeing the Olympics, the addition of a profession hockey team (the Atlanta Thrashers) and a fight to keep the Atlanta Hawks in town, the growth of the airport to become the largest in the world and a significant population expansion. Campbell was a popular mayor whose name arose as a possible candidate for Democratic vice-president in 2000.
On the negative side, Campbell left an $80 million deficit, he failed to address serious infrastructure problems, especially with sewage and he frivolously spent money from a 1994 bond referendum. Shortly after leaving office a federal investigation was launched involving members of his staff. They were convicted of bribery.
The Federal government followed the bribery convictions of former Atlanta mayor Bill Campbell's aides with a wide ranging indictment against Campbell himself, including
- Taking payoffs from people doing business with the city;
- Taking payoffs with people seeking business and licenses from the city;
- Defrauding Atlanta citizens by depriving them of "good, faithful and honest services as mayor;"
- Failure to disclose cash payments he received while serving as mayor.
- Accepting illegal campaign contributions for his re-election as mayor.
- Defrauding contributors and creditors of his re-election campaign;
- Recruiting others, including city employees, to "participate in ... racketeering activity."
Former aides Dan DeBardalaben, who headed Atlanta's job training agency and DeWayne Martin, Atlanta's former COO had already pleaded guilty to perjury charges.
After a trial lasting 6 weeks a jury quickly acquitted the former mayor on complicated racketeering and bribery charges but returned a conviction on tax evasion, a relatively easy charge to prove.