• Senior staffer of former Mayor Reed charged in city hall bribery investigation

    By: Aaron Diamant

    Updated:

    ATLANTA - There are new charges filed in the federal corruption investigation of Atlanta City Hall.

    Katrina Taylor-Parks, who served as deputy chief of staff to former Mayor Kasim Reed, was charged with conspiracy to commit bribery.

    A criminal information unsealed Wednesday morning accused Taylor-Parks of accepting bribes in 2013 from an unidentified city vendor.

    “At this point, we really don’t want to talk about the merits of the case,” said her attorney, Jay Strongwater. “She’s devastated by the news.”

    The accusations

    Prosecutors claim the vendor wrote a $2,000 check to a company Taylor-Parks’ owned and another $2,000 check directly to Parks’ husband, DeAnthony Parks. In exchange, that vendor got more than $80,000 in contract work from the city.

    Channel 2 Action News confirmed the dates and amounts the feds highlighted coincide with city payments to a company called Bridgenet for a Piedmont Park Wi-Fi project.

    Bridgenet’s owner, Paul Marshall, recently cut a plea deal with the feds in an unrelated fraud case in return for his cooperation in other investigations. 

    First appearance postponed

    Taylor-Parks was scheduled to make a first appearance before a federal magistrate Wednesday afternoon. The appearance was postponed after Strongwater told the judge that she is in a hospital for an undisclosed medical condition.

    “Hopefully we can get Katrina back on her feet, and at that time we’ll be in court for this initial appearance and the bond,” Strongwater said.

    The complaint also states that Taylor-Parks signed financial disclosures with the city “falsely attesting that she was not self-employed or employed by any business or entity other than the city.”

    In April, federal prosecutors subpoenaed records from City Hall related to Taylor-Parks and DeAnthony Parks, who is also a city of Atlanta employee.

    The subpoena for Taylor-Parks sought personnel records, financial disclosure and ethics statements and requests for permission by Taylor-Parks to seek outside employment.

    Prosecutors demanded her travel records and reimbursements from 2011 to 2017, as well as her requests and approvals for leave.

    What does it mean for the larger investigation?

    Former federal prosecutor Caren Morrison told Channel 2’s Aaron Diamant that based on her read of the charging document, she expects Taylor-Parks will eventually plead guilty.

    She also believes the case may go higher than Taylor-Parks.

    “If this is somebody who worked closely with the mayor, there’s no way she could do these kinds of activities without the mayor at least having some idea of what was going on,” Morrison said.

    [SPECIAL SECTION: Atlanta City Hall Investigation]

    Taylor-Parks is just the latest casualty of the feds' sweeping corruption probe of city hall under Reed that’s already lead to four guilty pleas and four prison sentences.

    Strongwater wouldn’t say if his client is cooperating with prosecutors and said he had no idea if Reed knew about the alleged bribes.

    Current mayor responds

    Taylor-Parks served as Reed’s deputy chief of staff for eight years -- a position she held under Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms until Taylor-Parks recent resignation.

    In a statement to Channel 2 Action News, Bottoms said she was saddened by the charge against Taylor-Parks.

    “These unfortunate developments stand in stark contrast to her reputation as an effective and experienced City Hall executive,” the statement said. “Our administration has been steadfast in its commitment to create extraordinary and innovative new transparency safeguards."

    Bottoms said her administration has been assisting federal investigators.

    Dan Klepal with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution contributed to this article.


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