ATLANTA - Another FOX 5 I-Team Exclusive on the ongoing Atlanta bribery investigation.
When former contract procurement director Adam Smith pleaded guilty to bribery conspiracy last week the U-S Attorney didn't identify the vendor who allegedly paid the bribes.
Now our I-Team has learned the vendor in question is a long time construction executive, Jeff Jafari.
On February 21, 3 FBI agents, led by a city employee, left city hall with the computer and cell phone belonging to the head of Atlanta's contract procurement office.
Adam Smith, a 14-year veteran, oversaw billions of dollars of public money for all kinds of city projects from construction to airport concessions.
Seven months after that FBI raid, Smith pleaded guilty in federal court to one count of bribery conspiracy.
US Attorney John Horn said an Atlanta construction company executive paid Smith more than $30,000 during a 2-year period - from 2015 to 2017 - but he wouldn't say who the executive was.
I asked why the vendor wasn’t identified.
“The investigation is continuing and we haven't completed the investigation as it relates to the bribes,” said Horn.
The identity of the vendor has set off a rash of rumors at City Hall. Sources familiar with the case now tell me the unnamed executive in the Adam Smith case was Jeff Jafari, at the time the Senior VP for the PRAD Group.
The FOX 5 I-Team broke the story that one week prior to Adam Smith's sentencing, FBI agents raided Jafari's Sandy Springs company. I talked to Jafari one week after the raid.
(Was this raid about PRAD?) I cannot tell you.
(Did it have anything to do with Adam Smith?) I cannot tell you.
(Jeff, were you the unidentified contractor in Adam Smith case?) Oh, I don't know anything about that.
One day after our interview, Jafari announced his retirement.
Today I spoke with Jaffari's attorney, Steve Sadow, who said: "I'm not in a position, nor do I deem it appropriate to comment."
Prosecutors said the vendor met with Adam Smith in various restaurants. One source told us Jafari often met Smith at this popular downtown restaurant, Apre Diem. We don't know if any payoffs were made during those meetings. According to federal prosecutors, the meetings took place when the "Vendor was actively seeking contracts, projects, and work with Atlanta."
“During most of the meetings, Smith and the vendor got up from table and met secretly in the restaurants’ bathrooms, where the vendor gave Smith approximately 1000 in cash payments in bribes,” said Horn.
A review of City contracts shows between 2015 and 2017 Jafari's company or joint ventures were awarded portions of at least 6 different contracts with the city, totaling millions of dollars.
But there was more. We saw Airport Retail Concessions Group bid boxes being loaded into a car outside of Jeff Jafari's office.
Airport Retail Concessions Group bid on four of the 10 retail packages. Jafari wouldn't tell me who the principals of the company are, but he did say he was a consultant.
“With all that's going on, between FBI raids and hidden owners, you can't trust this process,” Georgia Ethics Watchdogs director William Perry said.
We told him that our sources told us Jeff Jafari is the unidentified vendor and is currently trying to win bids at the airport.
“That is a shocking fact. And if this proves to be true, there is no way this can move forward. How could anyone associated with that company and that consultant be allowed to bid on anything with the city of Atlanta,” says Perry.
When Jeff Jafari's name first surfaced we asked Mayor Reed if the airport bids would continue. Mayor Reed's spokesperson wrote that the Mayor doesn't believe that the operation of city government should be ground to a halt.
The spokesperson also said the city has cooperated with federal authorities for more than a year and anyone involved in any wrongdoing should be prosecuted.