Pleading Guilty to Corruption, Ex-Aide to Atlanta Mayor Faces 5 Years in Prison
By Dan Klepal and Scott Trubey
Former Kasim Reed aide Katrina Taylor-Parks became the second high-ranking Atlanta official to plead guilty in the federal corruption investigation of City Hall Wednesday.
Taylor-Parks, Reed's former deputy chief of staff and a 23-year City Hall veteran, pleaded guilty to accepting $4,000 in bribes from a city vendor and agreed to cooperate with the government's investigation. She faces up to five years in prison when sentenced in November.
"I'm being charged with using influence to benefit a vendor that would have been in conflict with my role with the city of Atlanta," Taylor-Parks told the judge. "At the time, I did not believe what I did was wrong."
Reed's former chief procurement officer, Adam Smith, is already serving a federal prison sentence after having pleaded guilty to accepting more than $30,000 from another city vendor.
Separately, Rev. Mitzi Bickers, who served as Reed's director of human services, attended status hearing in a different courtroom for her case, which includes charges of conspiracy to commit bribery, money laundering, wire fraud, tampering with a witness or informant, and filing false tax returns.
Bickers was indicted in April and is free on $50,000 bond. Her status conference was scheduled for July 9, but Bickers attorney requested a delay after receiving more than 1 million documents and 40 audio recordings as part of the potential evidence in her case.
The judge granted Bickers' legal defense team three more months to examine documents and other evidence related to her case.
"The discovery is voluminous in this case," attorney Drew Findling said after the hearing. "We've got to go through the documents."
Findling declined to comment on the strength of the government's case, but added:
"We believe in our client's innocence."
Four other defendants in the City Hall case -- including Smith, two contractors and a former low-level city employee who worked for Bickers -- pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with the investigation in exchange for reduced sentences.
At a press conference after the hearings, U.S. Attorney Byung J. "BJay" Pak urged other potential City Hall insiders to come forward.
"As you know, each step of this investigation probably causes them to lose sleep," Pak said. "They may worry the next knock on their door may be federal agents. To them, the question is not if, but when we're coming. So you can help yourself right now. If you're on the fence about coming in and cooperating with the government, I'd advise you to do it immediately."
(c)2018 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Atlanta, Ga.)