Former high-ranking Atlanta city official pleads guilty to taking bribes

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Adam Smith, the former head of procurement under Mayor Kasim Reed's watch, has pleaded guilty in federal court Tuesday afternoon to conspiring to accept more than $30,000 in bribe payments from a vendor who obtained millions of dollars in city contracts.

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Senior FOX 5 I-Team reporter Dale Russell reported the news about Smith appearing in court earlier Tuesday on Twitter.  

The contractor who approached Smith was hoping, in exchange for money, Smith would help with bids. Smith would often accept money paid to him in the bathroom of an Atlanta restaurant, a thousand dollars at a time.

U.S. Attorney John Horn, after the plea, said this was a sad day for Atlanta citizens.

“Smith sold the public's trust in thousand dollar increments, and he's guilty now of felony bribery. And we are committed to continuing our investigation until we are understanding and seeing the full scope of this breakdown in the city's contracting process,” said Horn.

Horn would not comment on where he believes the investigation is headed.

Smith's attorney Brian Steel said it was a horrible day for Smith and a horrible day for his career. He expects Smith to go on and do things and doesn't think what he calls this misconduct, will define him.

From 2003 to 2017, the 53-year-old Smith quietly oversaw every single bid and major contract that went through Atlanta City Hall, but it came out in Smith’s plea that the bribes only went back about two years.

Smith was brought to City Hall about 14 years ago by then-mayor Shirley Franklin to help rewrite the city’s ethics code and to help clean up the procurement office. That was after all the scandals under Bill Campbell’s administration.

Many describe Smith as a quiet, well-respected man. He was raised in the Atlanta area, is a Morehouse College graduate, holds a Yale degree, a master's degree and a Georgetown law degree.

He will be sentenced Jan. 16, 2018, which is after the mayoral election.

Shock waves from the case tore through City Hall on Tuesday and those seeking to lead the city for the next four years.

“I’m saddened by this news. And it's very disappointing and disheartening, because I have known him to be a good man and a good person who tried to do the job that he was appointed to do. The story behind the scenes is what we don't know. For it to come inside City Hall is very disappointing. And just I want to let the investigation take its course,” said Kwanza Hall, Atlanta mayoral candidate.

“That is tremendously disappointing and it makes me angry on behalf of the taxpayers. Because We have to be able to trust the people spending our money,” said Peter Aman, Atlanta mayoral candidate.

“Felicia Moore and I introduced an ordinance several years from now to make sure we had complete transparency. And it's just because of issues like this,” said Mary Norwood, Atlanta mayoral candidate.

“There's something rotten going on at city hall,” said Vincent Fort, Atlanta mayoral candidate. “[If I was mayor,] I would have an inspector general in place to root out this corruption. I would have someone whose responsibility it would be to find out if things are going wrong, and if things are going wrong to seek a prosecution.”

Mayor Kasim Reed released the following statement reiterating his commitment to cooperating with the federal investigation and his lack of involvement in the wrongdoing:

“The city of Atlanta has been working in full cooperation with federal authorities for more than a year, and assisting them remains our top priority. Any allegations that the city's procurement process has been compromised in any way undermines the public trust in government. Accordingly, 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.”

MORE: FBI seizes Atlanta Chief Procurement Officer's computer