Aide to ex-Atlanta mayor indicted in bribery probe

ATLANTA (AP) — An aide to former Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed pleaded not guilty Thursday to federal charges in connection with an ongoing bribery investigating involving City Hall.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office told news outlets that a federal grand jury indicted the Rev. Mitzi Bickers on Thursday on 11 counts, including bribery, wire fraud, money laundering, and filing false tax returns.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Bickers was scheduled to be released on a $50,000 appearance bond later in the day.

Bickers is accused of taking $2 million in bribes from contractors in exchange for her help in getting them city contracts between 2010 and 2015.

Her lawyer, Richard Hendrix, declined comment after the hearing.

Bickers helped Reed get elected in 2009 and then ran the Department of Human Services for three years. Her duties included running city programs to help the homeless and distributing federal and local funding to homeless shelters.

Bickers’ city salary was $57,000. Prosecutors say she used the bribes to fund a lavish lifestyle, including the purchase of a $775,000 home in suburban Atlanta, vacations and a $46,000 Denali luxury SUV.

“Bickers conspired to enrich herself and others by soliciting and accepting payments directly and indirectly from Mitchell and Richards and their companies in exchange for her agreement to represent their businesses and to obtain lucrative City of Atlanta contracts for their companies through bribery,” the indictment stated.

The newspaper reported that city contractors Elvin “E.R.” Mitchell Jr. and Charles P. Richards Jr. have pleaded guilty to bribery charges and are cooperating with the ongoing investigation.