• Federal subpoenas target former Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed's expense records

    By: Richard Belcher , Aaron Diamant

    Updated:

    ATLANTA - Channel 2 Action News has obtained federal subpoenas seeking former Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed’s purchasing card expenditures.

    The subpoenas name four people, including the former mayor, for the first time. 

    Federal prosecutors also want spending records for Reed, but Channel 2 investigative reporter Richard Belcher has learned the feds want a lot more from one of Reed’s top aides.

    Our colleagues at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution filed a request for all federal subpoenas received by the city since February 1.

    Late Tuesday, the city released two grand jury subpoenas. One focuses on Reed's deputy chief of staff and a man convicted of wire fraud. The other subpoena focuses on the city credit cards used by Reed, his brother and two others. 


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    Until now, Reed may have been embarrassed by the bribery charges that resulted in four guilty pleas and four prison sentences, but Reed himself has remained unscathed.

    Weeks after the scandal emerged publicly last year, Reed oversaw the release of more than 1,000,000 records subpoenaed by federal authorities and denied that he or his brother had been questioned by the FBI and said he had taken no bribes.

    “I wanted to be mayor of Atlanta since I was 13, and if you think that I would throw my away for some short-term gratification, you don't know me well, and you don't know the plans that I have for my own life,” Reed said at the time. 

    A federal grand jury subpoena released Tuesday names Reed for the first time in the Atlanta City Hall bribery investigation.

    The subpoena demands records of Reed's city purchase card as well as cards issued to Reed's brother Tracy, Reed's deputy chief of staff Katrina Taylor Parks and Mitzi Bickers, Reed's former campaign consultant who worked for Reed for three and a half years.

    Bickers was indicted earlier this month, accused of accepting more than $2 million in bribes.

    The second subpoena focuses almost entirely on Parks, who wielded a lot of power as Reed's deputy chief of staff. She holds the same job now for Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms.

    A representative for Bottoms sent a statement to Channel 2 Action News saying:

    "As part of the ongoing investigation from the US Attorney’s office, the City has received the enclosed subpoenas. We will continue to cooperate with this investigation."

    That subpoena demands city records related to Parks and explicitly aims at her relationship with businessman Paul Marshall, who is awaiting sentencing in Atlanta for federal wire fraud.

    Marshall's attorney told Belcher on Tuesday night, “I knew nothing about the subpoenas. I was surprised."

    But attorney Jerry Froelich declined to say whether his client is cooperating with the federal corruption investigation.

    Tuesday’s developments may have been signaled by U.S. Attorney Bjay Pak the day Bickers was indicted.

    “The ethics and culture of an organization starts from the top. Right? You set the right tone, so when you have repeated instances of corruption, it's time to look at the culture,” Pak said in that news conference.

    Parks told Belcher that she is cooperating and wants to let the system follow its course.

    Reed sent a statement saying all documents requested will be provided.

    "Since the start of this investigation, my Administration pledged full cooperation with our federal partners. My commitment has not changed and all documents requested in the April 6, 2018 subpoena will be provided. Many of these documents have been made available to members of the press previously and reflect legitimate expenses incurred as well as contributions made during the course of my service as Mayor of Atlanta."

    The demand for Reed's spending records came nine days after the AJC and Channel 2 Action News reported on his spending.


    BACKGROUND INFORMATION

    Less than two weeks ago, former city of Atlanta official Mitzi Bickers was indicted on federal charges related to the bribery case at City Hall.

    Bickers, a highly sought-after political operative, helped Reed get elected in 2009 and then went on to work as human services director in Reed’s administration for three years.

    Bickers is accused of taking $2 million in bribes to steer city of Atlanta contracts to at least two contractors, E.R. Mitchell and C.P. Richards, from 2010 to 2015. Both Mitchell and Richards pleaded guilty to paying bribes and are cooperating with the ongoing investigation.

    On April 5, Bickers pleaded not guilty to the 11- count indictment. The indictment says Bickers conspired with “others known and unknown” to pull off the bribery scheme.

    When the story initially broke back in 2017, Reed told Channel 2’s Dave Huddleston he has nothing to hide.

    "We're going to let the facts go whereever they go and we're going to make sure any issues that we have are brought to a close and weeded out," Reed said.

    When Bickers name first appeared in connection with the investigation, Reed distanced himself from his former employee.

    “I have very little comment other than to say Rev. Bickers worked for the city from 2010 to 2013 and she ran our human services department. Beyond that, I don’t have very much more to say. She was not a direct report to my office. She did report to the chief of staff,” said Reed.

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