° empty

Ex-Vicksburg mayor gets 25 months for bribery

Ben Hillyer / The Natchez Democrat — Ex-Vicksburg mayor Paul Winfield, right, enters the federal courthouse in Natchez Tuesday morning before being sentenced for bribery.
Ben Hillyer / The Natchez Democrat — Ex-Vicksburg mayor Paul Winfield, right, enters the federal courthouse in Natchez Tuesday morning before being sentenced for bribery.

JACKSON (AP) — Former Vicksburg Mayor Paul Winfield has been sentenced to just over two years in prison for seeking a $10,000 bribe in exchange for a city contract.

Winfield was sentenced on Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Natchez to 25 months in prison to be followed by three years on supervised release.

Winfield was also ordered to pay a $5,000 fine and forfeit $7,000, the amount paid to him as a bribe, according to a news release from U.S. Attorney Gregory K. Davis and Daniel McMullen, the FBI agent in charge in Mississippi.

Winfield, a Democrat, completed his first term as mayor earlier this year and lost his re-election bid.

Winfield must report to prison by Jan. 6. He pleaded guilty on Sept. 16 and agreed to never seek public office again.

Court records say a confidential FBI informant called Winfield on July 17, 2012, to discuss “pre-event disaster contracts” with the city.

The two met at a Jackson restaurant the next day, and the informant asked Winfield what it would take to get the contract. “Winfield responded ‘Ten’ and held up 10 fingers, signifying $10,000,” according to a criminal complaint.

Prosecutors say Winfield agreed to take half the money up front and the rest after the contract was awarded. The informant paid Winfield $5,000 in $100 bills that had been provided by the FBI, according to court records.

In August 2012, Winfield called the informant and said he owed $4,300 in taxes and was “in a bind,” court records say. They later met in the parking lot of a McDonald’s in Natchez, where the source gave Winfield another $2,000 and promised to give him the remaining $3,000 when the contract was awarded, according to the complaint.