A former executive at an Atlanta-based design, engineering and construction management firm has pleaded guilty to bribing two city officials who helped his firm win contracts worth millions of dollars. The plea came from Lohrasb “Jeff” Jafari, former executive vice president of PRAD Group Inc., who prosecutors say oversaw the company’s finances.
During a 35-minute hearing April 19 in U.S. district court in Atlanta, Jafari changed his plea as part of an agreement with prosecutors, admitting to two counts of bribery and one of tax evasion, records show. He had faced more than 50 charges, with other alleged crimes including tampering with a witness and money laundering, although the other charges will be dropped, according to the agreement.
Prosecutors say Jafari gave $40,000 in cash bribes to former chief procurement officer Adam Smith between 2014 and 2017. Most of the payments were made as $1,000-installments handed over in a restaurant bathroom. In turn, Jafari expected Smith to use his position to help PRAD Group win contracts with the city.
Jafari also paid $10,000 in cash bribes to Jo Ann Macrina, who was Atlanta’s Dept. of Watershed Management commissioner, according to prosecutors. They say he also provided Macrina with jewelry, a hotel room and shopping trip in Dubai and landscaping work on her home.
Macrina also helped Jafari win contracts, and prosecutors say the former officials even replaced two evaluators selecting a firm for an architectural and engineering contract and re-scored submissions to ensure that Jafari’s company would win the contract.
Later, after she was fired from her government job, Macrina went to work for Jafari, earning $30,000 in a four-month span.
A confidential FBI source who prosecutors describe as a “high-ranking DeKalb County official,” recorded two meetings with Jafari in 2014 accepting cash payments of between $1,000 and $1,500 in exchange for promises to assist the former exec in obtaining work in DeKalb County.
Later, when Jafari learned of a federal investigation into Smith over the bribe payments, he told the city official to lie to the FBI, prosecutors say. Smith instead pleaded guilty to conspiratorial bribery months later and was sentenced in 2018 to two years and three months in prison.
Jurors found Macrina guilty of bribery and conspiracy to commit bribery last year. In February, a federal judge sentenced her to four years and six months in prison. Her attorneys maintain her innocence and have said they plan to appeal.
Prosecutors also say Jafari failed to file personal tax returns or pay any income taxes between 2014 and 2016. He also withdrew large amounts of cash from corporate bank accounts and used money from PRAD Group accounts to pay for personal expenses, including luxury vehicles. In total, authorities say he evaded payment of at least $1.5 million in taxes.
An attorney for Jafari declined to comment.
Jafari is scheduled to be sentenced July 19. He faces up to five years in prison each for conspiratorial bribery and tax evasion, and up to 10 years for substantive bribery. As long as Jafari abides by the plea deal, prosecutors say they will recommend he serve between 51 and 63 months in prison, and pay restitution.
PRAD Group dissolved in 2020, Georgia business records show.
Post a comment to this article
Report Abusive Comment