Critics call for halt to airport bids following FBI raid

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Mayoral hopeful Ceasar Mitchell was stunned when he saw our I-Team investigation of an FBI raid of an Atlanta city vendor's office two weeks ago.

A key officer in the company is working to win bids on a current airport retail contract.

“We need to stop,” Mitchell said. “We need to fix the procurement process. We need to do it now before we pass on any contracts.”

Last week, the FOX 5 I-team broke the story that on September 20, armed FBI agents wearing flak jackets raided the office of the PRAD Group.  A key principal of the company is Jeff Jafari.

I asked if the raid was about PRAD or Adam Smith. Jafari responded he couldn’t tell me anything.  

One week after the raid, US Attorney John Horn announced that the city’s chief contract procurement officer, Adam Smith, pled guilty to conspiracy to take bribes from an unnamed contractor. The vendor who paid the $30,000 in bribes has only been identified in court papers as an “executive with a construction firm.”  

Government watchdog, William Perry, says the FBI raid, in and of itself was stunning, but he thinks it shows an ever-growing FBI investigation of bribery in Atlanta city hall.

“I think it goes so far, so deep, we're going to see more and more of this,” says Perry.

The I-Team found there was far more to this story.  We found people loading bid boxes into a car outside the PRAD Group office one week after the FBI raid. The name on the boxes: Airport Retail Concessions Group.

Those boxes were turned in at city hall later that day. The Group bid on 4 of the 10 current retail packages.

We found at the pre-bid conference, the name Airport Retail Concessions Group had one representative: Jeff Jafari. Jafari denied it was his company, but admitted to me he was involved in the bid.

“I'm working as a consultant, architect, and engineer,” said Jafari.

The airport retail bid is a controversial multimillion-dollar bid that many say Mayor Reed has rushed through, even though the current contracts don't end until late next year.

A move the Mayor vehemently defends, saying he signs contracts all the time that will continue after he leaves office.

“I plan to do my job,” said Mayor Reed.

But his critics disagree.  William Perry asked: “How can you continue a contract with somebody who has been raided by the FBI?”

“It further underscores my point,” said Ceasar Mitchell. “These contracts should not and will not be considered and passed.”

Mayor Reed's spokesperson responded with the following email:

 “Any allegation that the City’s procurement process has been compromised in any way undermines the public’s trust in government. Accordingly, our outside counsel has helped to review our procurement processes and safeguards and the City has been working in full cooperation with federal authorities for more than a year – since August 2016 – and assisting them remains our top priority. 

"We do not believe, however, that the operation of city government should be ground to a halt. 

"Over the last 7.5 years, the City of Atlanta has spent more than $15.5B on contracts and executed thousands of agreements without incident. We believe that 99.9 percent of the individuals who work for the City of Atlanta come to work every single day with a high level of integrity as evidenced by the unmatched economic results and current financial condition of the City.

"However, we will not rest until this case is fully resolved and justice has been served. Those involved in any wrongdoing should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”