Atlanta corruption investigation stretches into Mississippi

A federal investigation into corruption at Atlanta City Hall has stretched into Mississippi with a new bribery charge leveled against a former Atlanta city employee and political consultant.

Posted: Oct 25, 2018 4:50 PM

ATLANTA (AP) — A federal investigation into corruption at Atlanta City Hall has stretched into Mississippi with a new bribery charge leveled against a former Atlanta city employee and political consultant.

A new indictment filed in Atlanta this week against Mitzi Bickers alleges she tried to get city contracts in Jackson, Mississippi, in 2014 and 2015 by paying for entertainment, transportation and campaign services for that city's mayor and other city officials.

No Jackson city officials are named or charged in the indictment.

Bickers had helped former Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed win election in 2009 and was hired in February 2010 as the city's director of human services, a job she held until May 2013.

Bickers was previously accused in an indictment in March of soliciting and accepting payments to help steer lucrative Atlanta city contracts to two construction contractors and their companies. She's also accused of tampering with a witness or informant and filing false tax returns.

Bickers pleaded not guilty to the earlier charges and her attorney, Drew Findling, told The Associated Press Thursday that she will do the same for the new charge. She's scheduled to be arraigned on the new charge Nov. 5.

The new indictment filed Monday says Bickers helped candidate Tony Yarber with his campaign to become Jackson mayor in an April 2014 special election after the previous mayor died in office. Yarber won in 2014, but lost his re-election bid last year.

The indictment says that beginning in March 2014, Bickers paid for food, flights, hotels, chauffeured car services, entertainment, fundraisers and campaign services for the Jackson mayor and other city officials "in an effort to influence and reward these public officials."

She tried to get a contract for a convention center hotel project in the city and a program management services contract for the city's wastewater department, the indictment says. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that she was not successful.

Bickers told a Jackson city employee in May 2015 that the mayor had promised she would receive a city contract and that she "simply needed to ensure that the paperwork looked good enough to justify the award," the indictment says.

The next month, she became the registered agent for a company called Mississippi Developers.

The new indictment also says Atlanta-based contractor Elvin R. Mitchell Jr. paid for many of the gifts and services provided to Jackson city officials and that he and Bickers tried to get work for that city's wastewater department. Mitchell pleaded guilty to bribery and money laundering charges last year and was sentenced to serve five years in prison and pay more than $1 million in restitution. He also agreed to cooperate with prosecutors.

The Journal-Constitution reported that Stephanie Coleman, the former equal business opportunity manager for Jackson, filed a lawsuit in February 2017 saying Yarber's administration tried to steer contracts to Bickers and others.

Coleman told the newspaper and WSB-TV in February of 2017 that Bickers told her Yarber had promised her work with the city and asked Coleman how to make sure her documentation was good enough to win the watershed contract.

Coleman, who settled her lawsuit with the city of Jackson last month for an undisclosed amount, said she had been interviewed by the FBI.

Bickers is one of six people who have been charged in the ongoing Atlanta corruption investigation. The other five have pleaded guilty. Four have been sentenced to prison with the fifth set to be sentenced in January.

They include Reed's deputy chief of staff, the city's former chief procurement officer, two construction contractors and a man employed by Bickers who tried to intimidate one of the construction contractors to keep him from talking to federal investigators.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 32888

Reported Deaths: 1188
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds259141
DeSoto172418
Madison132635
Jones114049
Neshoba100473
Rankin98213
Harrison96911
Lauderdale92280
Forrest91643
Scott77915
Jackson68917
Copiah62015
Washington61710
Leake58919
Lee56220
Holmes56041
Oktibbeha55227
Wayne54515
Warren53218
Yazoo5236
Lowndes50913
Grenada5067
Leflore50053
Lamar4917
Lincoln48434
Pike45416
Monroe42534
Sunflower4208
Lafayette4094
Covington3755
Attala36523
Panola3646
Bolivar35618
Newton3479
Simpson3453
Adams31518
Tate31011
Pontotoc3046
Marion30012
Chickasaw28719
Claiborne28410
Winston2808
Noxubee2728
Jasper2676
Pearl River26532
Marshall2583
Clay24911
Smith22911
Union21810
Clarke21025
Coahoma2056
Walthall2056
Lawrence1872
Yalobusha1807
Kemper17914
Carroll16811
Humphreys1569
Tallahatchie1454
Calhoun1414
Montgomery1392
Tippah13811
Itawamba1378
Hancock13413
Webster12711
Jefferson Davis1134
Tunica1133
Jefferson1103
Prentiss1103
Greene1059
Amite1043
Wilkinson939
George913
Tishomingo891
Quitman811
Choctaw754
Alcorn742
Perry724
Stone692
Franklin452
Benton420
Sharkey370
Issaquena101
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 46424

Reported Deaths: 1032
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson5486155
Montgomery4246105
Mobile4219136
Tuscaloosa234644
Marshall177011
Madison15548
Lee143337
Shelby135724
Morgan11285
Walker98525
Baldwin9809
Elmore96215
Dallas9109
Franklin90216
Etowah79013
DeKalb7615
Chambers64327
Autauga63612
Butler63228
Tallapoosa60469
Russell5680
Unassigned52226
Limestone5181
Houston5106
Lauderdale5016
Lowndes47821
Cullman4705
Pike4525
Colbert4266
St. Clair4162
Escambia4118
Calhoun3875
Coffee3863
Covington3727
Bullock36810
Barbour3572
Talladega3237
Marengo31711
Hale31521
Dale3020
Jackson3022
Wilcox2948
Sumter28512
Clarke2836
Winston2663
Chilton2622
Blount2511
Monroe2412
Pickens2386
Marion23613
Conecuh2177
Randolph2169
Macon1999
Choctaw19712
Bibb1961
Greene1868
Perry1791
Henry1363
Crenshaw1253
Washington1187
Lawrence1090
Cherokee1037
Geneva840
Lamar801
Fayette721
Clay692
Coosa591
Cleburne391
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