A former Atlanta official was convicted of bribery and conspiracy to commit bribery after prosecutors said she accepted cash and luxurious gifts from a city contractor. Charges are also pending against the contractor.
A federal jury in Atlanta found Jo Ann Macrina guilty of the charges on Oct. 14. Macrina was commissioner of the Atlanta Dept. of Watershed Management from 2011 until 2016. During her time leading the department, prosecutors say Macrina accepted valuable items from Lohrasb “Jeff” Jafari, then the executive vice president of Atlanta-based design, engineering and construction management firm PRAD Group Inc. The two also discussed Macrina’s potential employment with the company. In turn, she ensured PRAD and its joint ventures received city contracts worth millions of dollars.
In one case highlighted in the indictment, city evaluators ranking proposals in response to a 2014 RFP for architectural, engineering and design services scored a PRAD-led joint venture at the bottom of the rankings. But Macrina and others reevaluated the proposals after replacing two evaluators, and the JV ended up being selected for the contract.
Meanwhile, Macrina accepted $10,000 in cash, jewelry, a luxury hotel room in Dubai and landscaping work at her home from Jafari, prosecutors say. And she did not disclose any of it on her city financial disclosure statement.
Macrina was fired in May 2016. She then went to work for PRAD, where she received $30,000 between that June and September, prosecutors say.
Paul Kish, an attorney for Macrina, said in a statement that she was actually a whistleblower who cooperated with the FBI to expose public corruption. Then the government turned against Macrina after two-and-a-half years, accusing her of the same.
“We are highly disappointed in the jury’s decision to convict her,” Kish said. “We plan to appeal her case and look forward to the day when we can help her clear her name.”
Macrina faces as long as 15 years in prison. Her sentencing has not yet been scheduled.
Jafari is also facing charges of bribery, tax evasion and other crimes related to his dealings with Macrina and other former city officials. Several other former city officials and contractors have also been implicated in bribery schemes amid a federal investigation. Jafari’s indictment names former Atlanta Chief Procurement Officer Adam Smith as another bribe recipient.
PRAD Group dissolved in 2020, Georgia business records show.