A police mug shot of former city of Atlanta employee Shandarrick Barnes. Barnes was previously accused of attempting to intimidate a key figure in the Atlanta City Hall bribery scandal. Barnes was accused of throwing a brick with a threatening message through a window of the home of contractor Elvin “E.R.” Mitchell Jr. Barnes also was accused of leaving dead rats on Mitchell’s property.

No bond for man in brick and rat case tied to Atlanta bribery probe

A man accused in what a prosecutor described as a movie-style incident to intimidate a federal witness with a brick and dead rats was ordered held Monday without bond in federal court.

Shandarrick Barnes, 41, was indicted last week on five counts related to a September 2015 incident at the home of contractor Elvin “E.R.” Mitchell Jr., the federal government’s star witness in a long-simmering cash-for-contracts scheme at Atlanta City Hall. Barnes has pleaded not guilty. 

The Atlanta City Hall bribery scandal began in January when contractor Elvin “E.R.” Mitchell Jr. pleaded guilty to conspiracy to pay cash in exchange for city contracts.

Federal prosecutor Kurt Erskine said the government wanted Barnes held without bond for what he described as a violent act against Mitchell, who at the time was just starting his cooperation in the federal corruption and tax evasion case.

In January, Mitchell pleaded guilty to conspiring to pay more than $1 million in bribes to win city contracts. A second contractor, Charles P. Richards Jr., also has pleaded guilty in the scheme.

For the first time, prosecutors identified one of the contracts Mitchell admitted to paying bribes to win: work to remove snow from winter storms in 2014. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has previously reported Mitchell earned more than $7 million in 2011 and 2014 for snow removal work that occurred around the time Mitchell admitted to paying bribes.

Elvin “E.R.” Mitchell Jr., left, stands with his attorney, Craig Gillen, 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
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Bill Morrison, an attorney for Barnes, said his client is a “little guy” in the complicated scandal. Morrison said Barnes does not deserve to be held without bond when bigger fish — namely Mitchell and Richards — remain free on bond, pending sentencing. He asked for his client to be released on bond with conditions.

But Chief Magistrate Judge Linda Walker disagreed.

“This court finds this was a little guy with a big brick,” she said.

Prosecutors offered new insights into their case during Monday’s hearing. For more, visit the subscriber website, MyAJC.com.

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