SANDY SPRINGS, Ga. - It was 9:00 sharp, last Wednesday morning, as FBI agents raided a Sandy Springs office building. Armed and wearing flak jackets, they headed to the third floor to the headquarters of the PRAD group.
The PRAD group, which touts its work at the Atlanta airport on its website, is an architectural, engineering, and construction firm that has done work with the city of Atlanta since for decades.
Jeff Jafari is the executive vice president of the PRAD Group. I first met him in the 1990's when he was a vendor during the Olympics. But on this day, he was reluctant to talk.
“I have nothing to say,” said Jafari.
Agents were in and out all day long, with some leaving five and half hours after they arrived with – we’re told - computers, and boxes of potential evidence.
I asked Mr. Jafari if the raid was about the PRAD Group’s Atlanta business. He responded, “I cannot tell you.”
PRAD has done millions of dollars of work since the 1980's, the most recent – a multi-million dollar ongoing contract with Watershed Management.
But, the FOX 5 I-Team has learned that Jeff Jafari also is connected to brand new airport retail company, formed only one month ago. And a company that is currently bidding on 4 of the 10 retail packages at the Atlanta airport.
Wednesday afternoon, with a 2:00 bid deadline looming, we watched as airport retail vendors from across town dropped off copies of their bid at city hall. At stake, who will operate retail stores in 80 locations across the airport, possibly pocketing millions of dollars in profits.
Mayoral Candidate Ceasar Mitchell has criticized Mayor Reed for rushing this bid process for millions of dollars’ worth of contracts that weren’t scheduled to end until late next year.
The I-Team was there when the bidders were slated to be announced, but the city refused to allow our cameras to record the public event or take pictures of the bid boxes.
But, earlier in the day, we were outside the PRAD Group's office and watched as people loaded up an SUV with bid boxes. The name on the boxes: Airport Retail Concessions Group.
The company turned in bids for 4 out of the 10 packages.
We had never heard of the company. So we began checking. The limited liability company was formed a little over one month ago. Company records don't reveal the officer's names. The addresses lead us to an office in a building located about 50 yards from Jeff Jafari’s company.
The I-Team obtained the sign in sheet for the retail pre-bid conference and we found the company: Airport Retail Concessions Group. And, its representative – Jeff Jafari.
Neither the FBI nor the US Attorney would say why the FBI raided the PRAD Group or what they were looking for. Jafari told he does not know who runs the Airport Retail Concessions Group.
He also said it is not his company. “I'm working as a consultant, architect, and engineer.
Mayor Kasim Reed’s staff said they had no comment.