Former City of Atlanta Deputy Chief of Staff Evelyn Katrina Taylor-Parks has pleaded guilty to conspiring to accept bribe payments while serving as the City of Atlanta’s Deputy Chief of Staff to the Mayor for approximately eight years.

In a news conference early Wednesday afternoon, US Attorney Byung J. Pak said Taylor-Parks agreed to cooperate in their ongoing investigation. Prosecutors said they will recommend a sentence for her in November, partly based on how helpful she’s been.

On Nov. 16, 2017, and on Feb. 15, 2018, Parks was interviewed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. During those interviews, Parks falsely stated that she had never taken money from the vendor. Last week, on Aug. 8, Taylor-Parks, 49, of Douglas County, Georgia, was charged in a criminal information with one count of conspiratorial bribery.

This case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey W.  Davis, chief of the Public Integrity and Special Matters Section, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jill E. Steinberg, deputy chief of the Criminal Division are prosecuting the case.

“Parks was trusted to serve the citizens of Atlanta, but opted instead to betray that confidence when she accepted bribes from a vendor,” Pak said. “Unfortunately, she is not alone.  Parks represents the fifth defendant to enter a guilty plea in this investigation.  We remain resolute in our commitment to rooting out those who seek to profit personally at the expense of the public’s trust.”

According to U.S. Attorney Pak, the charges, and other information presented in court: From approximately January 2010 to May 2018, Parks served as the Deputy Chief of Staff to the Mayor of the City of Atlanta, Georgia.

As the Deputy Chief of Staff, Parks had various responsibilities, including managing core City of Atlanta operations, coordinating with the Mayor and the executive staff to execute the administration’s policies, and facilitating the procurement process.

Regarding the recent turn of events, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said, “The people of Atlanta deserve better and should have a government that works honestly on their behalf. It is both tragic and disappointing that individuals who have had the privilege of serving Atlanta have ruined their personal and professional reputations for ill-gotten gain.

“I remain committed to leading our Administration in full cooperation with the authorities to ensure a fair and swift closure to this unfortunate chapter in our city’s history,” she continued. “Just as we have in the past, we will rise and emerge on the other side of this a stronger city and more connected community.”

In her position, Parks signed an annual Financial Disclosure Statement attesting that she was not self-employed or employed by any business or entity other than the City of Atlanta and that she had not received more than $5,000 in annual income from any source other than the City of Atlanta. Parks executed the Financial Disclosure Statements, under penalty of perjury, in 2011, 2012, and 2013, stating she was not employed outside the City of Atlanta.

A vendor, who was an executive with a firm in Atlanta during Parks’ tenure as the Deputy Chief of Staff, sought work through his businesses with the City of Atlanta, and the City of Atlanta awarded one project to the vendor’s firm worth $99,999.

From late-2011 to mid-2013, Parks met privately with the vendor on multiple occasions. During these meetings, Parks and the vendor discussed various topics, including the vendor’s desire to obtain work with the City of Atlanta, the idea of sole-source contracting, and the process by which the vendor could obtain a sole-source contract with the City of Atlanta.

At the time of these meetings, the vendor was actively seeking projects and work with Atlanta, and at times was performing work for the City of Atlanta.

The vendor paid Parks thousands of dollars and paid for various services on Parks’ behalf while seeking work with the City of Atlanta. In return for these bribe payments, Parks knew that the vendor wanted her to use her position and power as the Mayor’s Deputy Chief of Staff to assist the vendor with the City of Atlanta’s contracting and procurement process and to assist the vendor in the future when needed.

In exchange for accepting money from the vendor:

  1. Parks met regularly with the vendor, took the vendor’s calls, and responded to the vendor’s emails.
  2. She organized and arranged meetings between the vendor and high-ranking employees within the City of Atlanta and with a member of the City Council. Based on the high-level nature of her position, Parks knew that when she contacted City of Atlanta employees, on behalf of the vendor, those employees would feel compelled to comply with her requests.
  3. Parks provided the vendor with information and advice regarding the processes and procedures to obtain a sole-source contract with the City of Atlanta.
  4. She assisted the vendor in obtaining a City Council Resolution allowing the City of Atlanta to negotiate a sole-source contract with the vendor that was possibly worth millions of dollars. Parks believed that the vendor intended to use the resolution in an attempt to obtain government contracts outside of Atlanta.
  5. She also facilitated and expedited the process for the vendor to get paid for work the vendor had completed for the City of Atlanta.

Parks never disclosed her ongoing financial relationship with the vendor and/or the vendor’s firm on her Financial Disclosure Statements to the City of Atlanta.  In total, from January to July 2013, the City of Atlanta issued payments of $19,900, $11,750, $15,000, $17,200, and $36,149 to the vendor’s firm.

“Parks’s plea should strike fear in any public official who chooses to cash in on the trust of the people they are sworn to serve,” said J. C. Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “Though a bribe to make easy money may be tempting, know this: Public corruption investigations are a top priority for the FBI and we are committed to holding accountable anyone who chooses to disregard the public’s trust.”

Said Thomas J. Holloman, Special Agent in Charge of the IRS-Criminal Investigation, “Parks must be held accountable for her crimes in order to restore public trust in city governance. IRS-CI will continue to leverage its skilled workforce in partnership with the U.S. Attorney’s Office to eradicate public corruption by recommending prosecution on any elected official or employee involved in criminal activity under the guise of serving the public.”

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