ATLANTA - Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed says he is "very sad" about E.R. Mitchell's guilty plea in federal court Thursday.
E.R. Mitchell is a long time, well known businessman and campaign contributor of Mayor Reed. Wednesday, Mitchell pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery and money laundering. Charging documents say Mitchell gave an unidentified person more than a million dollars between 2010 to 2015 to secure city construction contracts. Mitchell expected that person to spread the money around city hall. Mitchell's attorney, Craig Gillen, told reporters Mitchell had been and would continue to cooperate with the FBI.
That cooperation may have led to a bizarre twist in the case. During the FBI investigation someone left dead rats on Mitchell's doorstep and threw a cinder block through the window warning Mitchell to keep his mouth shut.
The FOX 5 I-Team has reviewed court records that show 14 months after the threat, police arrested Shandarrick Barnes and charged him with criminal damage to property. According to a city brochure, Barnes was an Atlanta city employee in 2014.
"I don't know this gentleman," said Reed. "But we have 8000 employees and if any one of them engage in bad behavior the justice system is going to handle that."
Barnes was on probation for a DeKalb 2010 racketeering conviction at the time, according to court records.
The warrant for the alleged threat shows Barnes "did cooperate with agents and confessed to the crime."
Who is Shandarrick Barnes? Before working at the city, he was one of the original members of a company called The Bickers Group. Mitzi Bickers, is a long time Atlanta political power player. She is a former School board member, church pastor, and now political consultant who helped Kasim Reed get elected to his first term. After that election the Mayor hired her to run Human Services at city hall.
We found she also has long, deep ties to the man who pleaded guilty to paying a million dollars in bribes.
In 2004, Bickers filed bankruptcy but during the proceedings, E.R. Mitchell hired her and paid her enough bonuses to allow her to dismiss her bankruptcy. According to a state document, she went on to be Mitchell's VP of Operations.
Neither U.S. Attorney John Horn nor the FBI have identified who E.R. Mitchell gave the million dollars to. Mayor Reed said there is no telling.
"Like any organization we have challenges," says Mayor Reed. "This is serious challenge, and we're treating it as a serious challenge."