Second contractor charged in Atlanta City Hall bribery case

Charles P. Richards Jr., 64, is accused of conspiracy to commit bribery in order to obtain city of Atlanta contracts, according to charging documents made public in U.S. District Court. From 2010 to August 2015, Richards is alleged to have paid $185,000 in bribes in the belief that some of the money would be paid to unnamed city officials, prosecutors alleged.

Richards was publicly identified last week as a potential target of the federal investigation when the city of Atlanta released a subpoena from federal prosecutors late last year requesting information about Richards and related companies. The subpoena also requested documents about Elvin "E.R." Mitchell Jr. Mitchell, who pleaded guilty Jan. 25 to conspiracy to pay bribes and launder money in a scheme to win Atlanta city contracts.

At that time, prosecutors referred to an unnamed person in the construction industry who participated in the scheme. On Wednesday, they publicly identified Richards, a close friend and business associate of Mitchell’s.

Following Wednesday’s arraignment, Richards is scheduled to appear in court Feb. 16 when prosecutors expect him to plead guilty.

C.P. Richards Construction Co. used one of Mitchell's firms, Cascade Building Systems LLC, as a minority subcontractor for city work, according to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Channel 2 Action News analysis of city records.

From 2009 to 2014, the city paid C.P. Richards nearly $10 million on more than 100 invoices, according to an analysis of the city’s vendor payment data. The vendor data does not show how many jobs Cascade got as a minority subcontractor for C.P. Richards or how much Cascade was paid.

One 2013 contract awarded the partners more than $2 million for streetscape work near Greenbrier Mall, according contract documents in a City Council resolution.

The AJC, Channel 2 and other media outlets have made numerous requests for records that would shed more light on Mitchell’s work for the city as either a prime or a subcontractor. The city has said they will begin to make some of those records available Friday.

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