The U.S. Department of Justice Headquarters. Image via Wikimedia Commons.
Former city official Mitzi Bickers has been arraigned on a new bribery charge relating to a Mississippi pay-to-play scheme.
In April 2018, Bickers was charged with 11 federal offenses, including conspiring to commit bribery, wire fraud, money-laundering, federal obstruction and tax fraud, according to U.S. Department of Justice materials. The new charge stems from Bicker’s allegedly illegal actions in efforts influence and reward public officials in Jackson, Miss.
Starting in March 2014, Bickers allegedly hosted parties and paid for food, flights, accommodations, transportation, entertainment, and campaign services for the mayor and other city of Jackson officials. This was allegedly done to influence these public servants in order to secure government contracts, according to DOJ materials. Elvin Mitchell, Jr., who was convicted of conspiring to bribe city of Atlanta officials and was sentenced to five years in federal prison, helped to fund many of these activities.
“This latest indictment represents a pattern and practice when it comes to Bickers’ political activities of pay-to-play,” said Thomas J. Holloman, Special Agent in Charge, IRS- Criminal Investigation. “We are going to continue our efforts and we will not leave a stone unturned until all those who have engaged in corrupt political practices for personal gain are brought to justice.”
Bickers was arraigned today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Justin Anand. “It is vitally important that government contracts go to the most qualified bidders through a fair and transparent process,” Chris Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta, said in a statement. “Public corruption is one of the FBI’s top priorities, and along with our partners in law enforcement, we will not tolerate those who try to circumvent proper government procedures.”
The DoJ notes that this new indictment only contains charges and the defendant is presumed innocent. It is the government’s burden to prove the defendant’s guilt beyond reasonable doubt at trial.