Judge re-schedules ex-mayor’s bribery trial for next month

VICKSBURG — A federal judge has rescheduled the trial of former Vicksburg Mayor Paul Winfield to Sept. 30.

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.

The trial had been set to begin earlier this week, but attorney Terris Harris asked for a delay, saying negotiations were ongoing with prosecutors to resolve the case without a trial.

The FBI arrested Winfield on Feb. 20.

Winfield, a Democrat, completed his first term as mayor 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, according to the complaint.

If convicted, Winfield could face up to 10 years in prison.

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