/Federal indictment Contractor gave bribes to former Jackson mayor, other city officials

Federal indictment Contractor gave bribes to former Jackson mayor, other city officials

Mitzi Bickers “hosted parties and paid for food, airline flights, hotels, chauffeured car services, entertainment, fundraisers and campaign services” for the mayor and other city officials, according to an updated indictment filed October 22, and first reported in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The allegations were included in an amended indictment that was filed in Georgia federal courts under an existing case. These charges, which Yarber has pleaded guilty to, include allegations that Bickers was involved in an Atlanta bribery operation that has rocked the city hall in recent decades. Yarber is not named in the indictment. The indictment also claims that Bickers made purchases totalling at least $5,000 “with the intent and reward an agent of Jackson, Mississippi government.” These allegations echo the federal sexual harassment lawsuit against the Jackson City Council in August 2016. The settlement was $10,000 one year later. Bickers threw parties for Yarber, at which strippers in only body paint greeted them at their door. Bickers is also the pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church. She was denied portions of lucrative city contracts, including one to manage city’s wastewater consent decree. Ward 1 Councilman Ashby foote said Wednesday that the whole thing was “so smelly.” “All the connections to the subcontractors made us suspicious… it just struck my mind as a lot more mischief than was underway and we were paying lots of money for oversight… So I’m glad the contract wasn’t passed by the city council. I think that the fact that Yarber has been indicted may prove that what seemed wrong about the deal was right.” Mississippi Today reached Yarber Wednesday. She declined to comment on the indictment. The multi-million-dollar wastewater contract was initially awarded by Jackson’s procurement officers to AECOM, a Los Angeles-based engineering company with which Bickers allegedly partnered. The contract proposal would have allowed the group to oversee half a billion dollars of work and receive millions for program management. In a federal lawsuit filed in February 2017, Stephanie Coleman, former Equal Business Opportunity Manager for the city, exposed the scheme. Coleman, the city’s former Equal Business Opportunity Manager, stated that Bickers had visited her in May 2015. He claimed that he had made the decision to award the wastewater contract to Bickers. According to the new indictment, Yarber was allegedly in contact with Bickers soon after his election “to discuss a City contract.” The October 22 indictment against Bickers alleges that Bickers represented Yarber to a public employee by saying that she had been promised a contract with the City of Jackson. “Bickers simply needed to make sure that the paperwork was good enough to warrant the award. The paperwork was not good enough to get the city councilmen to approve the deal. The “Jackson 5” local subcontracting group of AECOM included a Jackson Redevelopment Authority member, later charged with Medicaid fraud, a member of Jackson Planning Board and an engineer who was employed at the Mississippi Department of Transportation. His business partner was the brother of Jackson’s former chief administrative officer. After the council rejected the proposal, Yarber warned his fellow members, implying that they were not paying attention to safety and public health issues. Coleman also claimed she was sexually harassed under her direct supervisor, Economic Development director Jason Goree. Jackson settled the case last month. The FBI interviewed Coleman in 2015 about Bickers and the actions of Kishia Powell (now Atlanta’s Watershed commissioner). Powell repeatedly denied being involved in contract-steering. Bickers also participated in a proposal for development of a convention center hotel that was procured from the Jackson Redevelopment Authority. Although the deal was ultimately canceled, Bickers met with the Mayor and other officials to discuss the possibility of a Jackson convention center hotel. This is according to the indictment. After former Mayor Chokwe Lumumba’s February 2014 death, Bickers donated $14,000 to Yarber’s campaign. In the Republican primary for U.S. Senate in 2014, she played a controversial part by placing robocalls in support of former U.S. Senator Thad Cochran. Senator Thad Cochran. Former Gov. Thad Cochran funded the Mississippi Conservatives PAC. Haley Barbour paid $44,000 for Bickers to place the ads that targeted African-American communities. Yarber’s first mayoral campaign in 2014 was also supported by another contractor.