Former Kasim Reed aide collapses in court as judge sentences her to prison

ATLANTA — Katrina Taylor-Parks, the deputy chief of staff for former Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, was scheduled to be sentenced Monday afternoon in federal court to nearly to two years in prison.

But as U.S. District Court Judge Steve Jones announced her sentence, Taylor-Parks collapsed to the floor. She was taken by ambulance to the hospital.

Channel 2 Investigative Reporter Aaron Diamant was in the courtroom when it happened. Diamant learned that her official sentencing will be rescheduled.

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Taylor-Parks is the fifth person so far to plead guilty in the long-running corruption probe of City Hall. Taylor-Parks admitted in August that she accepted payments from an unidentified vendor that was awarded about $100,000 in city business.

She pleaded guilty last year to accepting $4,000 in bribes. In court, prosecutors revealed that it was actually $15,000 in bribes during an 18-month period starting in 2013. Diamant also learned that Parks lied to the FBI about it at least twice.

When she entered the courthouse about 1:15 p.m., she told reporters that “a positive outcome is what I’m praying for.”

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Channel 2 Action News and our investigative partners at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and identified the vendor as a wireless internet company that obtained a sole-source contract at Piedmont Park and was controlled by Paul Marshall, a Marietta investment adviser who pleaded guilty in 2017 to defrauding investors in an unrelated matter.

Marshall also controlled a company called FOGFuels that won a City Council resolution authorizing the Reed administration to negotiate a sole-source contract to turn restaurant grease into biofuel. The contract was never fully consummated, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms’ office has said.

In exchange for money, Taylor-Parks admitted to helping the vendor arrange meetings with high-ranking city officials and introduced him to a member of City Council that prosecutors have not named.

Parks faced five years, but prosecutors recommended less than two due to her cooperation in the federal ongoing sweeping corruption probe into city hall under Reed. Still, her lawyers pointed to her long career in public service and had asked the judge for just home confinement.

“When you put things in context, it’s just an anomaly, and she’s paying a heavy price for it. We think the information she gave was worth more than what the government was offering in the way of sentence reduction," her attorney, Jay Strongwater, said.

But United States Attorney BJ Pak said the sentence they asked for fits the crime.

“If we don’t prosecute to the fullest extent of the law in these things, the question is, or it implies that we accept a certain level of corruption or bribes, and we can’t have that," he said.