Atlanta businessman pleads guilty to bribing Atlanta, DeKalb County officials

Former Executive Vice President of PRAD Group, Lohrasb "Jeff" Jafari, has pleaded guilty to charges of bribery and tax evasion. Jafari admitted to paying bribe money to two City of Atlanta officials in order to secure city business worth millions of dollars for PRAD Group, as well as attempting to bribe a former DeKalb County official to obtain county contracts. He also admitted to evading more than $1.5 million in taxes.

According to U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Buchanan, 72-year-old Jafari's actions corrupted the government procurement process in the City of Atlanta and DeKalb County, and his illegal activities contributed to the public's distrust in government. FBI Atlanta Special Agent in Charge Keri Farley stated that Jafari tried to buy his way around a fair process for all contract applicants, and his plea is a result of the FBI's ongoing commitment to ending public corruption in Atlanta.

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.

Jafari was found to have given cash and other items of value to former Chief Procurement Officer for the City of Atlanta Adam Smith and former Commissioner of the Department of Watershed Management Jo Ann Macrina, in exchange for business with the city. Smith and Macrina conspired with Jafari to ensure that PRAD Group received city business worth millions of dollars, including replacing two evaluators on the selection team for the City's Architectural and Engineering contract and re-scoring an evaluation so that Jafari's company would be awarded a contract.

Jafari frequently met privately with Smith on multiple occasions, where they discussed City of Atlanta procurement projects, bids, and solicitations. Jafari paid Smith $1,000 in cash in the bathroom of the restaurant after most of these meetings. In return for these bribe payments, Jafari expected Smith to use his position and power to assist Jafari with contracting/procurement with the City of Atlanta. Jafari paid Smith more than $40,000 in cash with the intent to influence him in his role as the City of Atlanta's Chief Procurement Officer.

Jafari also promised Macrina a lucrative job with PRAD Group and gave her cash, jewelry, a room at a luxury hotel in Dubai, a luxury shopping trip in Dubai, and landscaping work at her home in exchange for obtaining city work. Shortly after being fired by the City of Atlanta, Macrina began working for Jafari and PRAD Group, and Jafari and/or PRAD Group paid Macrina $30,000 in four separate payments.

The FBI conducted two undercover operations in 2014, during which Jafari sought assistance from a confidential source (who was a high-ranking DeKalb County official at the time) to obtain work in DeKalb County. After the meetings, Jafari paid the confidential source between $1,000 and $1,500 in cash.

Jafari's guilty plea follows a federal investigation into his illegal activities. Buchanan emphasized that contractors and the public deserve a fair and impartial government procurement process, and Jafari's actions undermined this system. James E. Dorsey, Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation, Atlanta Field Office, stated that Jafari's greed consumed him, and after being awarded government contracts, he failed to file tax returns reporting his income and pay the appropriate taxes, undermining the American tax system.

Jafari was scheduled to go to trial in May, but instead his attorney Steve Sadow says Jafari chose to plead guilty to bribery and tax invasion.

"Looking at the evidence, understanding risks of him being in trial, it was his best interest to work out a plea," said Sadow.

Surprisingly, with this plea, Jafari has not agreed to cooperate with the FBI/IRS investigation.

"At this stage of the game there was no reason for him to cooperate.. I don't believe at this date the government is interested any longer in cooperation," said Sadow.

The U.S. Attorney's office has one more city hall corruption case to prosecute, the fraud and theft case involving ex Atlanta chief financial Officer Jim Beard, set for trial later this year.

Prosecutors wouldn't comment on whether their nine-year-old investigation of Atlanta city hall is over.

Jafari faces paying more than $850,000 in restitution to the IRS. Federal Judge Steve Jones will sentence him to as much as sixty-three months in prison in July.