ATLANTA (AP) — A former executive for a longtime city of Atlanta vendor pleaded guilty Wednesday to paying bribes in exchange for millions of dollars in city contracts and to paying bribes to an official in a neighboring county in an attempt to get business there.
In addition to admitting to paying bribes to Atlanta and DeKalb County officials, Lohrasb “Jeff” Jafari, 72, also pleaded guilty to failing to pay more than $1.5 million in taxes, federal prosecutors said. He is the latest in a string of people, including numerous former Atlanta city officials, to plead guilty or be convicted by a jury as part of a federal investigation into corruption during former Mayor Kasim Reed's administration. Reed himself was never charged with wrongdoing.
“Contractors and the public deserve a fair and impartial government procurement process,” U.S. Attorney Ryan Buchanan said in a news release. “For years, Jeff Jafari corrupted, and attempted to corrupt, those processes in the City of Atlanta and DeKalb County by paying tens of thousands of dollars in bribe payments to several high-ranking government officials. Not surprisingly, after illegally obtaining city contracts he never paid a dime of personal income tax on millions of dollars he earned.”
Jafari was the executive vice president of PRAD Group, which provided architectural, design and engineering services for Atlanta and DeKalb County, prosecutors said.
Jafari gave cash and other items to Adam Smith, who served as Atlanta's chief procurement officer from January 2003 to February 2017, and to Jo Ann Macrina, who was commissioner of the city Department of Watershed Management from April 2011 to May 2016, prosecutors said. In exchange, they ensured that PRAD Group obtained lucrative city contracts.
From 2014 to January 2017, Jafari paid Smith more than $40,000 in cash and then tried to get him to lie about it when he caught wind of the federal investigation, prosecutors said. Jafari promised Macrina a job with PRAD Group, gave her cash, jewelry and paid for landscaping work at her home as well as a luxury hotel room and shopping trip in Dubai, prosecutors said.
Smith pleaded guilty and was sentenced in January 2018 to serve two years in federal prison for accepting bribes in exchange for city contracts. A jury last year found Macrina guilty of accepting bribes and a judge in February sentenced her to serve 4 1/2 years in prison.
In April and August 2014, the FBI used a confidential source who was a high-ranking DeKalb County official to conduct undercover operations. Jafari sough the person's help to get work in the county and paid the person between $1,000 and $1,500 in cash, prosecutors said.
Jafari failed to file personal tax returns and didn't pay any income tax to the IRS from 2014 to 2016, prosecutors said. During that time, he took out large sums from corporate accounts to pay for personal expenses.
Jafari is scheduled to be sentenced on July 19.