Former city official Mitzi Bickers indicted in City Hall bribery - CBS46 News

Former city official Mitzi Bickers indicted in City Hall bribery scandal

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Source: WGCL Source: WGCL
Source: WGCL Source: WGCL

A multi-count indictment was filed today against a high ranking former City Hall employee in the ongoing bribery scandal.

Mitzi Bickers, a former aide and HR lead under the Reed administration was charged with conspiracy to commit bribery, related to obtaining city contracts illegally among other allegations.

The bribes totaled in the millions. 

Bickers appeared in court Thursday morning in handcuffs. She pleaded not guilty to multiple counts of conspiracy, money laundering, wire fraud, tampering with a witness and filing false tax returns. 

She's now being held on a $50,000 bond.

Bickers is a former president of the Atlanta school board who later became a political consultant. In recent years, she worked on 'get-out-the-vote' campaigns for several politicians, including Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed during his 2009 race.

Bickers was hired in 2010 as the city's human services director. She was employed by the city until 2013 after allegations surfaced that she lied about how much money she was earning on the side.

In September of 2015, Shandarrick Barnes, a former employee of Bickers' communications firm, was arrested, accused of trying to intimidate businessman E.R. Mitchell Jr. by allegedly throwing a brick through the window of Mitchell's home and leaving dead rats behind. Bickers was Vice President of Operations for E.R. Mitchell Company, one of Mitchell's contacting companies. 

The FBI is accusing Mitchell of paying over a million dollars in bribes to Atlanta city officials in exchange for building contracts. Prior to this, Mitchell had been involved in massive building projects for the city, including Hartsfield Jackson International Airport and the Georgia World Congress Center.

Mitchell was later sentenced to five years in prison and ordered to pay $1 million in restitution for his role in the scandal in October of 2017.

Another business owner involved in the case is Charles Richards. He was also sentenced in October of 2017 to 27 months in prison and was ordered to pay back $193,000 in restitution and complete 100 hours of community service. 

In January of 2018, a former Atlanta city official was sentenced to federal prison after pleading guilty to conspiratorial bribery for his role in the case. Adam Smith, Atlanta's former Chief Procurement Officer, was sentenced to 27 months in prison, three years of supervised release, and has to pay $44,000 in restitution and a $25,000 fine.

Smith pleaded guilty in September 2017. Federal prosecutors say Smith accepted $40,000 in brides from a construction vendor from 2015 to January 2017. That unidentified vendor received millions of dollars in contracts.

The office of Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms released this statement shortly after Smith's sentencing:

“Under this Administration, no impropriety – large or small – will be tolerated.  Today serves as a valuable lesson to all that no one person is above the law.

Since her inauguration, Mayor Bottoms has worked closely with her transition team to begin the process to overhaul the City’s procurement processes and restore public confidence in the City’s contracting practices. Identifying and recruiting a permanent Chief Procurement Officer with exemplary private-sector experience is a top priority for the transition team and that search will begin soon.

During her campaign, Ms. Bottoms also proposed a ten-point plan to strengthen ethics and transparency, including establishing checks to ensure any company bidding for city business that has also made campaign contributions wins based on merit and merit alone. Mayor Bottoms intends to work with her transition team, consult with leading experts, and partner with the Atlanta City Council to implement the full ten-point plan.”

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