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Former top Atlanta official charged in ongoing bribery probe

The Associated Press
Former top Atlanta official charged in ongoing bribery probe

ATLANTA — A top aide to former Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed has been charged in a bribery case, part of an ongoing federal investigation of suspected corruption at City Hall.

In a court filing recently, prosecutors charged 49-year-old Katrina Taylor-Parks with conspiracy to commit bribery. Parks served as deputy chief of staff for Reed, who was term-limited when he left office in January.

Prosecutors say Parks is expected to plead guilty Monday.

Parks conspired from 2011 to February 2014 to accept bribes from an unidentified vendor, prosecutors said in a news release. They say she accepted thousands of dollars, and the vendor received tens of thousands of dollars for city contract work.

“Public officials have a responsibility to lead with integrity,” U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak said in the release. “Regrettably, Parks allegedly exchanged the power and trust given to her for bribe money paid by a city contractor.”

The court filing details a string of payments in 2013. It says the vendor wrote a $2,000 cheque in January 2013 to a business owned and organized by Parks and another $2,000 cheque to her husband in March 2013. Then, from April to July 2013, the vendor deposited four cheques from the city totalling about $80,000 into a business account he controlled.

Prosecutors say Parks also falsely stated in financial disclosure statements in February 2013 and in March 2014 that she wasn’t self-employed or employed by anyone other than the city.

As deputy chief of staff, Parks worked to push the Reed administration’s agenda with the city council, prosecutors said. She also served briefly under Reed’s successor, Keisha Lance Bottoms, who kept most of Reed’s cabinet in place for the first few months of her administration.

Bottoms said in an emailed statement that she was saddened by the charges.

“These unfortunate developments stand in stark contrast to her reputation as an effective and experienced City Hall executive,” Bottoms said.

Parks recently decided to retire after taking personal leave for several months, Bottoms said.

Parks was targeted by two federal subpoenas in April. Prosecutors sought records including statements for her city-issued credit card, financial disclosures, travel authorizations and reimbursements and communications between her and several companies.

One of the subpoenas also sought city credit card statements and other information for Reed; his brother Tracy Reed, a former city employee; and former director of human services and political consultant Mitzi Bickers. Bickers was indicted in March and accused of soliciting and accepting payments to help steer lucrative city contracts to two construction contractors and their companies. She has pleaded not guilty.

Four people have pleaded guilty and been sentenced to prison in the ongoing corruption investigation. They include 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.

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