On Thursday, September 8, 2022, U.S. District Judge Steve C. Jones sentenced a former City of Atlanta executive to 14 years in prison and ordered her to pay $2.9 million in restitution. Mitzi Bickers, 56, was the director of Atlanta’s human services department from 2010 to 2013, during former mayor Kasim Reed’s administration. She was alleged to have pocketed more than $2 million in bribes from contractors in exchange for steering $17 million worth of city contracts their way for work including bridge repairs, sidewalk maintenance, and snow removal. She was charged and found guilty at trial of conspiracy to commit bribery, money laundering, wire fraud, and filing a false tax return.
The courtroom was packed with family and friends in support of Bickers as she was sentenced, and about 60 character references in support were attached to the sentencing memorandum. Bickers asked the court for leniency, and her lawyers noted that two others involved in the scandal who had accepted plea deals had received lighter sentences. Former city contractors Elvin R. “E.R.” Mitchell Jr. and Charles “C.P.” Richards Jr. cooperated with the government, and the court sentenced Mitchell to 4 years imprisonment and Richards to 20 months. Yet, probation officers suggested that Bickers serve 24-30 years and prosecutors recommended 17.5 years.
In sentencing Bickers to 14 years, the Court noted that she has a caring heart, but the evidence showed a purposeful scheme by a government official to cheat and accept bribes, which takes away from the hard, honest work of others who work for the city.
It is unclear if Bickers will appeal her sentence. The case is USA v. Bickers, case number 1:18-cr-00098, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.
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