A federal judge Friday sentenced John Katopodis, a former Jefferson County commissioner and Birmingham City Council member, to three years and 10 months in jail on fraud convictions linked to his theft of taxpayer money intended for a poor children’s charity.
Katopodis, 62, also was ordered to pay $166,910 in restitution to Jefferson County and to forfeit $162,910 to the government as proceeds of illegal activity. He will serve three years on supervised release after completing his prison term.
A federal jury in July 2009 found Katopodis guilty on 97 counts of mail and wire fraud in connection with his scheme to defraud and steal more than $162,000 from Jefferson County and from a county-based charity called Computer Help for Kids. The charity was supposed to repair used computers donated by area businesses and distribute them to disadvantaged children. Katopodis controlled the charity’s finances and spent its money on trips, gambling, gifts, and other personal expenditures, prosecutors said.
From 2002 through 2007, the majority of the charity’s funding came from the Jefferson County Commission and totaled $815,000. The case represents the most recent sentencing for corruption involving a Jefferson County commissioner.
Larry Langford, a former commissioner and Birmingham mayor, was sentenced to 15 years in prison March 5 for his role in a long-running play-to-play scheme centering around the county’s now-failed $3.2 billion of sewer warrants and swaps. A number of former commissioners and contractors have been indicted or sentenced in connection with rebuilding the county’s sewer system.