By: Dale Russell
ATLANTA – U.S. Attorney BJay Pak made it clear to Atlanta citizens that the joint FBI-IRS Atlanta City Hall bribery investigation is picking up steam, resources, and possibly more indictments.
His message to anyone at City Hall guilty of public corruption.
“They may worry the next knock on the door is federal agents. To them, the question is not if, but when we are coming, “said Pak.
Mr. Pak’s bold comments came a just a few hours after Mayor Kasim Reed’s deputy chief of staff, Katrina Taylor-Parks, arrived at federal court to plead guilty to a bribery conspiracy.
Inside the courtroom, Ms. Taylor-Parks was clearly nervous. Speaking softly, she admitted she had taken bribes from a city vendor and she promised to cooperate fully with the investigation.
“I’m devastated by the outcome today,” said Taylor-Parks.
U.S. Attorney Jeff Davis told the judge a city vendor paid Ms. Taylor-Parks’ company $2000 and her husband $2000 in exchange for help in securing a sole source contract with the city. A contract that paid the vendor nearly $100,000.00
“The indictment of Ms. Taylor-Parks lends support to a culture of pay to play politics at the highest level in the previous administration,” said IRS Special Agent in Charge of Criminal Investigations, Thomas Holloman.
Ms. Taylor-Parks’ attorney, Jay Strongwater, said she will cooperate fully with the investigation.
“Katrina is heart broken by the turn of events and deeply regrets her transgression,” said Strongwater.
For the last two and a half years, FBI and IRS agents have been investigating allegations of corruption at Atlanta City Hall. Two city contractors have pleaded guilty to bribery. The city’s former chief procurement officer – guilty of accepting bribes. A former city employee guilty of threatening a witness. Mitzi Bickers, a political consultant for Mayor Kasim Reed and later one of his top department heads, is the only one to plead not guilty to bribery conspiracy charges.
So, where will the investigation go? Attorney BJay Pak wouldn’t identify any specific targets of the probe. But, he pointed to leadership at City Hall.
“When you have repeated instances of corruption in the culture and weak internal controls, you have to look at who set the tone at the top,” said Pak.