Second contractor charged in Atlanta bribery investigation

Federal prosecutors announced Wednesday the arrest of a second person on charges they paid bribes in order to obtain contracts with the City of Atlanta.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office alleges DeKalb County contractor Charles Richards paid more than $185,000 in bribes to obtain City of Atlanta contracts.

FOX 5 Senior I-Team Reporter Dale Russell reported last week that Richards had become the second person targeted in the Atlanta bribery investigation.

This new charge follows the January indictment of Atlanta construction company owner E.R. Mitchell on charges he paid more than a million dollars in bribes to secure contracts with the city.

In a news release, U.S. Attorney John Horn said, “From approximately 2010 to August 2015, Richards conspired with E.R. Mitchell to buy lucrative construction-related contracts with the City of Atlanta. Contractors who willingly participate in a pay-to-play contracting system subvert the process for those who try to compete fairly and ultimately undermine the public’s trust in government.”

“The arraignment of Mr. Richards illustrates once again that providing bribes in order to obtain government contracts, be it city, state, or federal, can land you in the defendant’s chair as easily as for those accepting the bribes.  The FBI continues to work diligently with its various law enforcement partners and federal prosecutors in identifying, investigating, and presenting for prosecution all individuals engaged in these types of criminal public corruption schemes that undermine the legitimate and established practices of government,” said David J. LeValley, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Atlanta Field Office said in the release.

Veronica Hyman-Pillot, Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation, said in the release, “The citizens of Atlanta must be able to trust that government officials will perform their duties in the best interests of the communities they serve. Charles Richards Jr. undermined the process of fair and open competition when he conspired with others to pay bribes in exchange for securing lucrative contracts with the City of Atlanta. Today’s announcement demonstrates our commitment to work in a collaborative effort to promote honest and ethical government at all levels.”

According to U.S. Attorney Horn, Richards serves as the owner and/or principal of the construction companies C.P. Richards Construction Co., Inc., and C.P. Richards & Associates, Inc.

In an effort to obtain construction-related contracts with the City of Atlanta, Richards and defendant Mitchell conspired to pay an individual to obtain government contracts. From approximately 2010 to August 2015, Richards paid over $185,000 to an individual in exchange for City of Atlanta contracts, believing that some of the money would be paid to city official/s who exercised influence over the contracting process. 

According to the news release, Richards, 67, of Tucker will plead guilty on February 16th before the U.S. District Court Judge Steve C. Jones.

This case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation.

RELATED: Atlanta contractor, E.R. Mitchell, pleads guilty to conspiracy