Second contractor pleads guilty in Atlanta bribery scandal

Second contractor pleads guilty in bribery case

ATLANTA - A second contractor pleaded guilty in federal court Thursday to his role in a city bribery scandal.

According to federal prosecutors, from 2010-2015, two construction contractors, Charles P. Richards (CP Richards Construction) and Elvin Mitchell (Cascade Building System & ER Mitchell Group) paid someone more than $1 million to help them win city contracts. Authorities have not released who from the city received the bribery money.

The 64-year-old was arraigned on federal charges of conspiracy to commit bribery on Feb. 8 after prosecutors said he paid $185,000 to unnamed city officials for his company, CP Richards Construction.

Richards will be sentenced on April 28 -- the same day as Mitchell. They could each receive up to five years in prison.

After the hearing, Richards said he knew what he was doing was wrong but wanted to save his family's company. He said he didn't want to lay off any workers.

His attorney told 11Alive's Rebecca Lindstrom that he wants people to know his company did the work they were contracted to do but regrets the road he took to get the contracts. Richards holds that the scheme was fellow contractor Mitchell's idea.

He was awarded millions of dollars in regular and emergency contracts for sidewalks and snow removal. An 1Alive investigation found $3.2 million dollars in contacts between 2009 and 2015. There could be more. Authorities allege that there were at least five instances where Richards wrote checks or wired money to city officials with influence.

CATCH UP ON THE STORY | Atlanta's bribery scandal: What's the big deal?

In January, Mitchell plead guilty to bribing unnamed Atlanta officials with more than $1 million in exchange for construction contracts.

According to city records, the contractors received about $16 million in city contracts. From 2010 to 2015, CP Richards' company won three of the four contracts they bid on. All of their bids came in on the day they were due. On one multimillion contract, they managed to come in at less than $3,000 lower than the nearest bidder.

On Thursday Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed released 1.4 million pages of documents related to the case and expressed his displeasure with the entire situation.

Photos | 1.4M documents released in City Hall

Most of the emails came from Mitzi Bickers, the former head of the city’s Department of Human Services. Federal prosecutors have been fascinated by Bickers going back as far as August, three months before the feds asked for information about Mitchell and Richards. See how they're all connected here.

An attorney for Richards would not comment on Bickers involvement  and would not answer questions about who he gave the money to. He would also not comment on if the bribery money was to pay for votes or information on how to get bids.

When asked if Richards believed he would have been awarded the bids had he not made the bribes, given the city's criteria for approving bids, his lawyer made no comment after a long pause.

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(© 2017 WXIA)


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