ATLANTA — Mitzi Bickers, a former city official under ex-Mayor Kasim Reed and a political power player after she left his administration, was found guilty on several crimes in a federal corruption trial.
A jury convicted Bickers on nine of the 12 charges she faced, acquitting her on three others.
Bickers faced charges that included three related to bribery, three for money laundering, four for wire fraud, one for witness tampering and one for making false statements/falsifying tax returns.
- Count 1, conspiracy to commit bribery: Guilty
- Count 2, conspiracy to commit bribery: Not guilty
- Count 3, bribery: Not guilty
- Count 4, money laundering: Guilty
- Count 5, money laundering: Guilty
- Count 6, money laundering: Guilty
- Count 7, wire fraud: Guilty
- Count 8, wire fraud: Guilty
- Count 9, wire fraud: Guilty
- Count 10, wire fraud: Guilty
- Count 11, witness tampering: Not guilty
- Count 12, making false statements/falsifying tax returns: Guilty
"We are thankful for the jury’s service on this case. We are also grateful for the dedication of the FBI and IRS agents who worked tirelessly to investigate this case as well as the prosecutors and staff in the U.S. Attorney’s Office who worked to bring the defendant to justice,” said U.S. Attorney Kurt R. Erskine.
Verdict | Mitzi Bickers convicted on several counts in corruption case
Bickers was indicted back in 2018, accused of using "her influence as a high-ranking City of Atlanta official and later as a connected political consultant to steer lucrative city contracts" to two contractors in exchange for bribes.
"The illicit arrangement netted over $2 million in bribes for Bickers and almost $17 million in city contracts," for the contractors she had allegedly conspired with, the U.S. Attorney's Office said at the time.
The contractors, Elvin Mitchell and Charles Richards, pleaded guilty to paying the bribes and were sentenced to federal prison time.
Then-U.S. Attorney Byung J. "BJay" Pak also further alleged that after Mitchell began cooperating with the FBI, Bickers "played a role" in an incident where a man threw a concrete block through a window at Mitchell's home with a note saying: "Keep your mouth shut!"
The former Atlanta Director of Human Services was later indicted in a separate case involving bribes in Jackson, Mississippi.
Bickers was one of several officials under former Mayor Reed who faced corruption charges. Two Reed administration officials, former city Chief Procurement Officer Adam Smith and Reed's Deputy Chief of Staff Katrina Taylor-Parks, pleaded guilty to taking bribes and were given federal prison sentences. Former city Chief Financial Officer Jim Beard also faces an ongoing fraud case.
Reed's onetime press secretary, Jenna Garland, was convicted as well in 2019 of obstructing open records requests made by an Atlanta news station (11Alive was not the station involved).
Bickers' attorney, Drew Findling, said a previous defendant was referenced repeatedly by prosecutors in this trial, but was not called as a witness -- which he takes issue with.
"This witness became somewhat testimonial during the entire trial. Referenced probably hundreds of times in documents and actual testimony and we didn't have the benefit of cross-examining that person. It created a lot of difficulty but obviously it is going to be an issue that will be aggressively pursued in an appeal to the 11th Circuit. That you can rest assured," he said.
Bickers is scheduled to be sentenced in July. Her attorneys are working through forfeiture issues for any money Bickers illegally received as a part of this case.