Atlanta purchasing chief gets 27 months for role in federal bribery case

Adam Smith, the city of Atlanta’s former top purchasing official, was sentenced Tuesday to 27 months in prison for his part in the city’s cash-for-contracts scandal following an emotional hearing in which supporters and even the government asked for leniency in light of his cooperation and acceptance of responsibility.

Smith admitted in November to taking at least $44,000 in bribes from an as-yet-unnamed city vendor in exchange for helping the vendor win lucrative contracts. Smith pledged to cooperate with the federal probe at the time, and last week, the U.S. Attorney’s Office revealed Smith had secretly recorded conversations with other individuals for the government’s case. As a result, prosecutors asked Judge Steve Jones for leniency, including a 40 percent reduction in Smith’s sentencing on account of his “substantial assistance.”

The bribery scandal at City Hall came into public view a year ago when contractor Elvin “E.R.” Mitchell Jr. admitted to paying more than $1 million in bribes to a still unnamed person under the belief some of the money would go to people with authority over city contracts. A second contractor, Charles P. Richards Jr., also admitted paying bribes.

The scandal shook City Hall and played a major role in the race to succeed then-Mayor Kasim Reed. Reed’s handpicked successor, Keisha Lance Bottoms, narrowly won a December runoff and she has pledged to reform city purchasing.

Channel 2 investigative reporter Mark Winne learned that recordings by Adam Smith may have proved valuable to federal investigators.

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