This story has been updated.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office revealed that a construction contractor has been charged with paying $1 million in bribes to unnamed city of Atlanta officials.
According to a press release published by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia, Elvin R. Mitchell Jr., was arraigned on conspiratorial bribery and money laundering charges.
“Mitchell brazenly sought to buy government contracts,” U.S. Attorney John A. Horn said in the press release. “Contractors who bribe their way into public work undermine the integrity of the system and ultimately cost taxpayers more money to get important projects done.”
The U.S. Attorney’s Office said that Mitchell, 63, is the owner of E.R. Mitchell Company, Cascade Building System, LLC, E.R. Mitchell Group, Inc. and EC & WT Construction Company Inc.
The phone number for E.R. Mitchell Construction company was not in service as of Wednesday morning, Jan. 18.
Atlanta Loop obtained a copy of the complaint: ER Mitchell
A preliminary review of records available online show the company has been involved in high profile projects around the city, including the city’s new courthouse and work at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. The company received a $480 million contract for construction management at the airport as part of a joint venture with two other companies, according to Airport-technology.com, which covers news about the airport industry.
The company was also involved in a contract dispute over work performed for DeKalb County Schools, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
According to an obituary, the company was founded in 1960 by Mitchell’s father, E.R. Mitchell, who passed away in 2012.
The document lists specific cash withdrawals and dates but doesn’t provide any clues about who the city official who received them might be.
In an email, the city of Atlanta attorney Cathy Hampton said, “For quite some time, the City Law Department has been actively involved in assisting the Justice Department in its investigation. We will continue to do so. Any allegation that the city’s procurement process has been compromised in any way undermines the public’s trust in government. Accordingly, we will not rest until this case is fully resolved and justice has been served.”
A city spokesperson told the Atlanta Business Chronicle that Mayor Kasim Reed is “not a party to this suit” when the Business Chronicle asked about the allegations. The spokesperson did not elaborate further when asked to clarify that statement for Atlanta Loop.
The press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office says, “In an effort to obtain construction-related contracts with the City of Atlanta, Mitchell and another person in the construction industry agreed to pay, and did pay an individual to obtain government contracts. From approximately 2010 to August 2015, Mitchell paid over $1,000,000 to an individual in exchange for City of Atlanta contracts, believing that some of the money would be paid to city official/s who exercised influence over the contracting process.”
The press release also alleges that Mitchell laundered the money received from the city of Atlanta by attempting to conceal the source and dodge federal currency transaction reporting requirements by taking out cash in amounts less than $10,000.
He is expected to plead guilty, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
Here is the full press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office:
Construction Company Owner Charged with Paying Over $1 Million in Bribes for City of Atlanta Contracts
ATLANTA – Elvin R. Mitchell, Jr., has been arraigned on conspiratorial bribery and money laundering charges for paying over $1 million to obtain City of Atlanta contracts.
“Mitchell brazenly sought to buy government contracts,” said U.S. Attorney John A. Horn. “Contractors who bribe their way into public work undermine the integrity of the system and ultimately cost taxpayers more money to get important projects done.”
“This case clearly demonstrates that those individuals who attempt to illegally influence our public officials can easily find themselves the subject of a federal investigation and prosecution. Because of the vast harm caused by public corruption, the FBI continues to make it our number one priority within our criminal investigative program and we ask that the public promptly report any information regarding this type of activity to their nearest FBI field office,” said David J. LeValley, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Atlanta Field Office.
“The public contracting process should be one of integrity and fairness,” stated Special Agent in Charge Veronica F. Hyman-Pillot. “Those who elect to pay illegal bribes to further their business interests should know that they are not beyond the reach of the law.”
According to U.S. Attorney Horn, the charges, and other information presented in court: Elvin R. Mitchell, Jr. serves as the owner and operator of E.R. Mitchell Company, Cascade Building System, LLC., E.R. Mitchell Group, Inc. and EC & WT Construction Company, Inc., d/b/a E.R. Mitchell Construction Co.
In an effort to obtain construction-related contracts with the City of Atlanta, Mitchell and another person in the construction industry agreed to pay, and did pay an individual to obtain government contracts. From approximately 2010 to August 2015, Mitchell paid over $1,000,000 to an individual in exchange for City of Atlanta contracts, believing that some of the money would be paid to city official/s who exercised influence over the contracting process.
Mitchell also laundered the money received from the City of Atlanta by attempting to conceal the source of the money and by attempting to evade federal currency transaction reporting requirements by withdrawing cash in amounts under $10,000.
Elvin R. Mitchell, Jr., 63, of Atlanta, Georgia, was charged by information and is expected to plead guilty to the charge later this month.
This case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation.
First Assistant United States Attorney Kurt R. Erskine and Assistant United States Attorney Jeffrey W. Davis are prosecuting the case.