Former Atlanta city councilwoman enters guilty plea

A judge on Friday found former Atlanta City Councilwoman Davetta Johnson Mitchell guilty of theft charges stemming from her work for the Atlanta-Fulton County Recreation Authority.

Following prosecution recommendations, Superior Court Judge Craig Schwall sentenced Mitchell to five years on probation. Schwall found Mitchell guilty of seven counts of theft by taking for stealing more than $30,000 from the recreation authority from 2000 to 2003. Mitchell was indicted in 2007 and charged with writing checks to herself on the agency’s account for vacation and sick leave she did not earn.

At Friday's hearing, Mitchell turned over a $10,000 check in restitution to the authority and agreed to repay another $10,000 over the course of her probation.

Mitchell's lawyer, Avis Hornsby, told Schwall her client was pleading guilty under the U.S. Supreme Court decision, Alford v. North Carolina. In entering such a plea, Mitchell did not admit guilt, but conceded the prosecution had enough evidence to convict her of her crimes -- and the plea counts as a conviction just the same.

Mitchell, 55, who previously represented East Atlanta as an Atlanta City Council member, worked for the authority from April 1997 to July 2003.

During that time, she signed over to herself a number of checks, ranging from $800 to $23,785, Assistant District Attorney Shondeana Morris told Schwall. All told, Mitchell is accused of taking $31,072 from the authority, Morris said. Morris said the authority signed off on the plea agreement which requires Mitchell to repay $20,000 in restitution.