Sentencing delayed for two contractors in Atlanta bribery probe

Elvin “E.R.” Mitchell Jr., left, stands with his attorney before a crowd of reporters outside the federal courthouse in downtown Atlanta on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2017. Mitchell pleaded guilty to conspiring to pay more than $1 million in bribes as part of a scheme to win city of Atlanta contracts. Dave Huddleston/Channel 2 Action News
Caption
Elvin “E.R.” Mitchell Jr., left, stands with his attorney before a crowd of reporters outside the federal courthouse in downtown Atlanta on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2017. Mitchell pleaded guilty to conspiring to pay more than $1 million in bribes as part of a scheme to win city of Atlanta contracts. Dave Huddleston/Channel 2 Action News

Sentencing hearings for two contractors who have pleaded guilty in the Atlanta City Hall bribery scandal have been moved to October, federal court records show.

Elvin “E.R.” Mitchell Jr. and Charles P. Richards Jr. were each scheduled to be sentenced next month for their admitted roles in a cash-for-contracts scheme. But U.S. District Court Judge Steve Jones has ordered the hearings for both men to be rescheduled to Oct. 10. The record notes that “any further continuance is highly unlikely.”

Federal prosecutors and lawyers for Mitchell and Richards requested the changes, records show.

Mitchell was charged in January with conspiring to pay more than $1 million in bribes to a person with the knowledge some of the money would go to one or more individuals with influence over city contracts. He pleaded guilty Jan. 25.

Richards was charged the following month and pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery, admitting to paying at least $185,000 in exchange for contracts.

Caption
Charles P. Richards Jr., right, a contractor who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery in order to obtain city of Atlanta contracts. Here, he leaves the U.S. District Court in February 2017 with his attorney Lynne Borsuk. BRANDEN CAMP/SPECIAL

Charles P. Richards Jr., right, a contractor who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery in order to obtain city of Atlanta contracts. Here, he leaves the U.S. District Court in February 2017 with his attorney Lynne Borsuk. BRANDEN CAMP/SPECIAL
Caption
Charles P. Richards Jr., right, a contractor who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery in order to obtain city of Atlanta contracts. Here, he leaves the U.S. District Court in February 2017 with his attorney Lynne Borsuk. BRANDEN CAMP/SPECIAL

The contractors have agreed to cooperate with prosecutors as part of their plea deals. Both men face five years in prison, plus fines and potential restitution costs.

Mitchell and Richards were originally slated for sentencing in April before dates were moved to July.

The scandal has rocked City Hall. Mitchell and Richards are long-time Atlanta area contractors and friends who took over businesses founded by their respective fathers.

Caption
Construction owner E.R. Mitchell has been charged by federal authorities with bribing high-level city workers in order to gain city contracts.

An Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Channel 2 Action news analysis previously found that during the time Mitchell confessed to paying bribes, one of Mitchell's companies was paid $7.3 million in emergency contracts during two 2014 winter storms, and another in 2011. Mitchell was also a minority partner with Richards' company in a sidewalk contract that reaped $8.8 million over several years.

Related coverage

ExploreSubpoena appears to broaden City Hall bribery investigation
ExploreAtlanta bribery figure cashed in during winter storms
ExploreKasim Reed campaign operative part of Atlanta federal bribery probe
ExploreFigure in Atlanta bribery probe sought to justify income to feds