ATLANTA (AP) — A former high-ranking city official has been indicted in an ongoing federal investigation into corruption at Atlanta City Hall.
Former commissioner of the Department of Watershed Management, Jo Ann Macrina, 63, is charged with conspiratorial bribery, bribery and tax evasion, federal prosecutors said in a news release Friday. The charges stem from her acceptance of money and other items of value from Lohrasb “Jeff” Jafari, a former contractor for the city and for DeKalb County, prosecutors said.
A February 2019 indictment accused Jafari of tax evasion, money laundering and bribing former city chief procurement officer Adam Smith, who has pleaded guilty and was sentenced to prison. Jafari has pleaded not guilty to those charges. Additional counts of bribery and tampering with a witness have been filed against Jafari for bribes he paid to Macrina, prosecutors said.
Macrina, who now lives in Daytona Beach, Florida, headed Atlanta’s Department of Watershed Management from April 2011 through May 20, 2016. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that then-Mayor Kasim Reed fired her.
Macrina’s attorney Paul Kish, said in a statement that his client has been cooperating with the government since the day after she was fired and has met with federal investigators more than 25 times, the newspaper reported.
“The government apparently indicted her after failing to obtain enough evidence against the main targets of its investigation,” Kish wrote. ”The prosecution has now turned on its own witness and indicted the person who told investigators where to find the fraud.”
Macrina met with Jafari alone and with others, including Smith, to discuss city procurement projects, bids and solicitations from at least 2014 until she was fired, prosecutors said. Those meetings often happened while Jafari was actively seeking city contracts and projects, they said.
Prosecutors allege that Macrina helped a joint venture led by Jafari’s company to win contracts worth $11 million, despite the fact that its proposal had scored at the bottom of city evaluators’ rankings.
Macrina discussed potential employment with Jafari and accepted bribes — including $10,000 in cash, jewelry, a room at a luxury hotel in Dubai and landscaping work — as a reward for providing him with information and preferential treatment for city projects, prosecutors said.