A former Atlanta official was sentenced to 4.5 years in prison for accepting bribes in the form of cash and luxury items from a contractor to whom she steered millions of dollars in architectural, design and construction management contracts for the city, while her attorneys maintain her innocence and plan to appeal.

Jo Ann Macrina, who served as commissioner of the Atlanta Dept. of Watershed Management from 2011 to 2016, must also undergo three years of supervised release following her prison term and pay $40,000 in restitution to the city, according to the sentence imposed by U.S. District Judge Steve C. Jones Feb. 24. She had faced as much as 15 years in prison. 

Paul Kish, an attorney representing Macrina, said via email that they “are horribly disappointed” with the sentence, and that she even faced criminal charges. Kish says Macrina was a whistleblower who helped the Dept. of Justice uncover fraud in the Atlanta city government. They plan to appeal.

“We strenuously believe our client is innocent,” Kish says. “We firmly believe she did not receive a fair trial.”

Prosecutors say Lohrasb “Jeff” Jafari, who was then executive vice president of Atlanta-based design, engineering and construction management firm PRAD Group Inc., provided Macrina with bribes including $10,000 in cash, a diamond ring, a Dubai hotel room and landscaping work at her home. As ENR previously reported, prosecutors say Macrina fixed RFP processes to award contracts to PRAD in exchange for the bribes. 

Jafari is also facing criminal charges. A 53-count superseding indictment filed this month adds one additional charge each of bribery and tampering with a witness to the numerous charges he was already facing in the case. Attorneys representing Jafari entered a plea of not guilty on his behalf Feb. 16. 

State business records show PRAD Group dissolved in 2020.