A federal court jury deliberated less than three hours Friday before finding former Shelby County Commission chief administrator Calvin Williams guilty on two counts of bribery and extortion.
Williams took $1500 from Willis, an undercover informant, in a taped meeting in 2003 shortly after Williams was forced to resign from his $101,000 a year job. Prosecutors said the money was payment for Williams to influence the commission to approve a $100,000 grant for a local nonprofit group.
"The jury found the case compelling, and it was compelling," said assistant U.S. Attorney Tim DiScenza, who also convicted former state senator Roscoe Dixon in another Tennessee Waltz case in which Willis testified for the government.
Still to come are defendants John Ford, Kathryn Bowers, and Ward Crutchfield, all former state senators. All the cases that have been tried or settled so far have resulted in guilty pleas or verdicts.
Asked if the verdict sends a message, DiScenza said "we don't bring cases to send messages" but he hopes the Memphis community understands that political corruption will be vigorously prosecuted.
We do not take racial considerations into account at all," he added. - John Branston