Vicksburg mayor granted $10K bail on bribery charges
District Attorney Michael Guest says Mayor Winfield was arrested on federal bribery charges Wednesday. Winfield is being held in the Madison County Detention Center.
JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -
Vicksburg Mayor Paul Winfield will be released from the Madison County jail Thursday evening after making bond in Federal Court on bribery charges.
Winfield made his initial court appearance before U. S. Magistrate Judge Keith Ball at 2:30 p.m. Thursday where he waived his right to a preliminary hearing and no testimony was heard. The mayor is released from jail on a $10,000 bond.
Winfield is charged with bribery concerning programs that receive federal funds. He was arrested at his home Wednesday. He is accused of soliciting and accepting bribes from an FBI informant representing a company interested in obtaining pre-event disaster contracts for the city of Vicksburg.
According to a criminal affidavit, Winfield met with a confidential informant at a restaurant in Jackson July 18. The informant asked Winfield what would need to be done for the informant's company to get a pre-event disaster contract.
"Winfield responded "Ten" and held up ten fingers, signifying $10,000," the affidavit states.
The informant then paid Winfield $5,000, according to the affidavit.
The affidavit also states Winfield called the informant on Aug. 9 and asked for an advance on the remaining $5,000 balance because he had $4,300 in taxes due and was "in a bind." The two then met at a McDonald's in Natchez on Aug. 17 where the informant gave Winfield $2,000 with the promise of another $3,000 after the contract was awarded, according to the affidavit.
If convicted on the bribery charges, Winfield faces up to 10 years in jail and up to a $250,000 fine.
"This is just an allegation made by an FBI agent. There's been no conviction. There's been no indictment. He's got an allegation made by the FBI, for what that's worth," said Winfield's attorney John Colette.
When reached Thursday morning, Vicksburg Mayor Pro Tem Michael Mayfield said "It's news to me. If you wouldn't have told me that, I wouldn't have known, Because I have been beating the bushes all morning trying to find something out."
he mayor had just announced he will run for a second term as mayor.
Winfield is currently facing a federal sexual harassment lawsuit filed by his former Chief of Staff Kenya Burks. Burks is suing Winfield and the city for more than $1.5 million. She has claimed she was subjected to a hostile work environment and retaliation after what she says was a consensual affair soured.
Attorneys for Winfield have asked a judge to seal some court documents in the lawsuit. Winfield is also asking a federal judge to dismiss the lawsuit.
Specifically, the Vicksburg Post reports that Winfield wants sealed documents in which Burks lists 15 names of people she says have information about her alleged affair with the mayor.
Winfield has denied claims of sexual relations. Burks held her job title from July 2009 to April 2011. A trial is scheduled Feb. 10, 2014, before U.S. District Judge David C. Bramlette.
"Paul is just trying to deal with this the best he can, calm and we're just going to take a look at it at this point," said Colette.
"People just have to wait and see what the whole nine yards is it's never good when an elected official is arrested," said Mayfield.
Copyright 2013 MSNewsNow. All rights reserved. AP contributed to this report.
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