Elvin “E.R.” Mitchell Jr. walks to the federal courthouse in downtown Atlanta on Tuesday, October 10, 2017. Mitchell and Charles P. Richards Jr. were sentenced in October to prison time for their roles in the Atlanta City Hall bribery scheme. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

Contractor in Atlanta City Hall bribery case reported to prison early

The first contractor to plead guilty in the Atlanta City Hall bribery investigation reported early to prison last week to begin serving his five-year sentence.

Elvin “E.R.” Mitchell Jr. turned himself in to federal authorities on Nov. 21, Odis Williams, one of Mitchell’s attorneys, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Thursday. Mitchell surrendered more than a week before he was scheduled to report to federal authorities.

Federal Bureau of Prisons records show Mitchell is an inmate at the minimum-security Federal Prison Camp Montgomery in Alabama.

Mitchell was sentenced in October after pleading guilty in January to conspiring to pay more than $1 million in bribes in exchange for city of Atlanta contracts. A co-conspirator in the scheme, contractor Charles P. Richards Jr., is scheduled to report to a prison in Pensacola, Fla., on Friday, federal court records show. He was sentenced in October to 27 months.

Mitchell and Richards admitted to conspiring to pay bribes from 2010 to 2015 to an as-yet-unnamed person.

In September, the city’s former chief purchasing officer, Adam Smith, pleaded guilty to accepting at least $30,000 in bribes from an as-yet-unidentified construction executive from 2015 to early 2017.

While Williams said his client surrendered early to “get on with his life,” an attorney for the Mitchell’s wife believes otherwise.

Marjorie Mitchell filed for divorce from E.R. Mitchell in February alleging, among other things, her husband misused funds held in trust for their children and borrowed against the couple’s Atlanta and South Carolina homes after she paid off the mortgages. In August, the divorce case expanded to include several companies and E.R. Mitchell’s mother, Ruth, and sister, Cynthia, as co-defendants.

Marjorie Mitchell’s attorney, Esther Panitch, sought to broaden the ranks of defendants in the divorce as the plaintiffs comb a complex web of companies for assets that might be part of the marital estate.

Panitch said by reporting to prison early, E.R. Mitchell avoided questioning in the divorce case. During a recent deposition, Panitch said the contractor repeatedly asserted his Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate himself.

“E.R. did what E.R. does, he left others to clean up his mess,” Panitch said Thursday after a hearing in the divorce case. “In this case, it’s his mother and his sister who he has made parties [to the divorce case] because of his misconduct.”

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