Ex-mayor’s attorney asks for more time in kickback trial

VICKSBURG — A lawyer for former Vicksburg Mayor Paul Winfield has asked a federal judge to postpone his trial because negotiations are ongoing with prosecutors to resolve the case.

Winfield is charged in U.S. District Court in Jackson with seeking $10,000 in cash in exchange for a city contract. He has pleaded not guilty.

Attorney Terris Harris mentioned the negotiations in a motion to continue the Aug. 5 trial.

The FBI arrested Winfield on Feb. 20. A federal grand jury indicted him March 19.

Former Vicksburg mayor Paul Winfield was arrested by the FBI on Feb. 20, 2013.

Former Vicksburg mayor Paul Winfield was arrested by the FBI on Feb. 20, 2013.

Winfield, a Democrat, completed his first term as mayor of the historic Mississippi River city this year and lost his re-election bid.

The criminal complaint says a confidential FBI informant called Winfield on July 17, 2012, to discuss “pre-event disaster contracts” with the city.

It says 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,” the complaint says.

Winfield agreed to take half the money up front and the rest after the contract was awarded, according to the complaint. The complaint says the source paid Winfield $5,000 in hundred dollar bills that had been provided by the FBI.

In August, Winfield called the informant and said he owed $4,300 in taxes and was “in a bind,” the complaint said. 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.

If convicted, Winfield could face up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

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