Atlanta’s former chief purchasing officer Adam Smith, left, leaves the federal courthouse in September after pleading guilty to accepting at least $30,000 in bribes. Smith has been ordered to report to a prison in North Carolina at noon April 18, 2018. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Atlanta purchasing chief Adam Smith ordered to report to N.C. prison

Adam Smith, who for 14 years was Atlanta’s top purchasing officer, has been ordered to report to a North Carolina federal prison to begin serving a 27-month sentence for his role in a City Hall bribery scheme.

Smith, a graduate of Yale, Morehouse and Georgetown Law School, must report to the Federal Medical Center Butner on Wednesday. The facility, for inmates with special medical needs, is located about 25 miles northwest of Raleigh and holds about 900 male inmates.

Channel 2 investigative report Richard Belcher reports.

It’s unclear why Smith was ordered to a medical facility. He had been recommended for a prison in Alabama after his February sentencing.

Smith was given a 40-percent reduction in his sentence for cooperating with the on-going investigation, after pleading guilty in September 2017 to one count of conspiracy to commit bribery.

Federal prosecutors justified the reduction in a January memorandum to the court, which revealed for the first time that Smith and made secret recordings to assist the U.S. Attorney’s Office with its case.

“…Smith provided the United States with several audio files containing recorded conversations between Smith and others; Smith recorded conversations at the request and direction of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Smith debriefed with and provided information to the Federal Bureau of Investigation on multiple occasions,” the Justice Department memo says.

During his tenure with the city, Smith oversaw more than a billion dollars worth of city expenditures, according to his sentencing memorandum. He admitted to taking at least $30,000 in bribe payments from a city vendor between 2015 and January 2017.

Artist Richard Miller drew Adam Smith in the courtroom of the Richard B. Russell Federal Building. Atlanta’s former chief purchasing officer, Adam Smith was sentenced Jan. 16, 2018, in U.S. District Court. (Photo by Rebecca Breyer for The AJC)
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Smith was fired Feb. 21, 2017 by Mayor Kasim Reed, just before FBI agents confiscated his city-issued computer and cell phone from his City Hall office.

The vendor, who The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has previously identified as Jeff Jafari, has been awarded several multi-million dollar city contracts at the airport and for the city’s watershed department.

Jafari has not been charged in the investigation, although his Sandy Springs’ office was raided by the FBI just days after Smith pleaded.

More than 70 people wrote letters in support of Smith before his sentencing.

The investigation into City Hall bribery burst into the public view more than a year ago, when construction contractor Elvin “E.R.” Mitchell Jr. was charged with conspiracy to commit bribery and money laundering in January 2017. He admitted to paying more than $1 million over several years.

Contractor Charles P. Richards Jr. has also pleaded guilty, agreed to cooperate and has been sentenced to prison for paying more than $193,000 in bribes.

Earlier this month, prosecutors unsealed an 11-count indictment against Rev. Mitzi Bickers, a former city employee and political operative. Mitchell and Richards made their bribe payments to Bickers, who prosecutors say was able to manipulate the city’s contracting system and steer $17 million in city work to the contractors.

Prosecutors have since said that the case against Smith involves a different set of facts than the cases against Mitchell, Richards and Bickers.

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