Atlanta and Fulton County, Georgia:
Federal corruption probe targets minority contracting and set-asides

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Atlanta's black mayor, Bill Campbell, his black henchmen are under federal investigation for bribery, use of fake "pass-through" minority contractors, and a host of offenses relating to the lax controls and oversight which are characteristic of many minority set-aside programs.

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U.S. Attorney Subpoenas Truckloads of City and County Documents
Originally Posted Oct. 6, 2000 -- Updated Mar. 13, 2006

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Update 3/13/06:

Campbell is CONVICTED of tax evasion!
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REPORT (10/6/00):  Now the shoe is on the other foot:  Atlanta's Mayor, Bill Campbell, had previously publicly vowed "a fight to the death" to maintain Atlanta's racial set-aside programs, and has compared opponents of set-asides to the KKK.
          Now city and county officials are resigning and pleading guilty to a variety of corruption charges centered on Mr. Campbell's beloved racial set-aside programs.

          The U.S. attorney's office has subpoenaed truckloads of documents related to Campbell's friends, officials, and favored contractors.

Dec. 16, 2003: Former Fulton County Commission chairman Mitch Skandalakis has plead guilty in corruption probe.  See Skandalakis Guilty, below.

          Surrounding Fulton County has a similarly long history of abuse of racial-preference programs and set asides.  The County is included in the federal probe.


The Cast of Players:

  • Fred B. Prewitt, minority business entrepreneur, owner of a minority contracting company FBP Contractors. Also Chairman of Mayor Bill Campbell’s Civil Service Board.  See below.
  • Donna Heard, owner of DXD Construction Services, an Atlanta-certified "female business enterprise".  See below.
  • Trojan Technologies, designated by Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell’s public works officials as the "sole source supplier" of over $30 million in equipment for the court-ordered renovation of the city’s Hemphill Water Treatment plant.  All Atlanta contractors, minority and otherwise, were forced to purchase equipment from Trojan.  See below.
  • Eco-Tech: A white-owned subcontractor on the project.  The minority firm, FBP Contractors, owned by indicted black businessman Fred Prewitt,  falsely invoiced the prime contractor (Harbert) for $114,220 in services which had actually been supplied by Eco-Tech (a white-owned firm) in order to meet Atlanta's minority participation goals on the contract.  See below.
  • Michael Childs, nude dance club owner: Childs is the nephew of former black Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young.  Childs is also a friend of former Mayor Campbell employee, Dewey Clark, who was is alleged to have been the go-between in delivering bribes from Childs to Campbell in order to retain the liquor license for his nude dance club.  See below.
  • Sable Communications: Minority-owned Atlanta contracting business whose former president is George Greene, who is black. Greene has a long history of insurance fraud mostly paid for by poor, minority citizens.  Greene is quite an operator, and has also falsified his resume on numerous occasions.  Mr. Greene has plead guilty to charges of attempting to influence contracting decisions by Fulton County.  Greene entered his plea in federal court in the face of charges that he bribed (former) Fulton County Commissioner Michael Hightower.  See below.
  • Fulton County Commission Chairman, Mitch Skandalakis: Records reveal that on at least 2 occasions Mitch Skandalakis reported income from Sable Communications, which was founded by indicted minority businessman George H. Greene. George Greene has pleaded guilty in the federal probe to bribing Skandalakis’ fellow Fulton County commissioner Michael Hightower, who has since resigned.  Former Commissioner Hightower and Skandalakis’ former chief of staff on the Fulton County Commission, Mr. Josh Kenyon, have also both entered guilty pleas in accepting bribes from Mr. Greene.  See below.
  • JRO Group, Inc.: An Atlanta company that supplies uniforms for Fulton County firefighters, police officers and jail inmates.  According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Federal investigators have subpoenaed JRO to produce "all documents or other records concerning ... Mitch Skandalakis, including, but not limited to, all checks and accounting records."  JRO, its officers, and family members, have contributed over $14,000 to former Fulton County Commission Chairman Mitch Skandalakis’ political campaign for lieutenant governor.  See below.

Tales of Corruption and Greed:

FBP Contractors: Fred Prewitt, owner

          Fred B. Prewitt was appointed by black Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell as chairman of the city's Civil Service Board. Prewitt also owns FBP Contractors, an Atlanta-certified "disadvantaged minority" contracting company.

          Prewitt has raised $4,600 for Mayor Bill Campbell’s two mayoral campaigns.

          Prewitt has been indicted by the U.S. Attorney’s office.

          FBP had contracts for the billion dollar renovation of the city’s Hemphill Water Treatment plant.

          Prewitt’s FBP Contractors has received at least $950,000 in Atlanta contracts since 1996, but city officials have raised doubts about whether his company actually performed the work.

          In the spring of 1996, investigators visited one of FBP’s construction sites only to find that workers on the $508,000 minority set-aside contract were actually employed by a white-owned company.

          Another Atlanta contract required a white contractor, Bill Harbert Construction Co., to hire minority subcontractors.   Bill Harbert Construction listed Prewitt’s FBP Contractors as a supplier in order to meet Atlanta’s race-based minority subcontracting qualification, but FBP Contractors didn’t perform any of the work or supply any of the materials.

          Apparently, minority-owned FBP was acting as a "pass-through" for two white-owned firms who actually supplied materials and services: Eco-Tech and The Wickliffe Company.

          Representatives from Eco-Tech and Wickliffe have stated that they supplied $400,000 worth of equipment and that FBP did not provide any equipment or services.

          FBP, however, appears to have submitted misleading invoices to the prime contractor, Bill Harbert Construction, showing that FBP supplied $114,220 of the $400,000 worth of equipment which had actually been supplied by Eco-Tech and Wickliffe.

          According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Jerry Wickliffe, president of The Wickliffe Company, said "FBP had absolutely nothing to do with that deal."

          Also according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "Herbert Timmerman, president of Eco-Tech, also said Prewitt had nothing to do with his $114,220 sale of equipment. Bill Harbert has refused to talk with reporters."

DXD Construction Services

          Contracts for the billion dollar renovation of the city’s Hemphill Water Treatment plant.

          DXD Construction Services has been certified by Atlanta as a "female business enterprise" entitled to preferences in awarding of Atlanta contracts. Ms. Donna Heard runs DXD.

          DXD doesn’t have any contracts with the city. However, Donna Heard is a corporate officer of another company at the same address which has performed millions of dollars in contracts for Atlanta. That company is R&D Testing & Drilling, run by Samuel R. "Ricky" Rowe.

          Donna Heard’s office is actually in the R&D Testing & Drilling company. Ms. Heard contributed $2,000 to Mayor Campbell’s re-election campaign. Ricky Rowe, her nominal boss at R&D Testing & Drilling, contributed $6,000 to Mayor Campbell’s re-election campaign. Also, through Ms. Heard’s other company, DXD, she contributed $250 to the campaign of an Atlanta City Councilwoman, Davetta Johnson Mitchell.

Trojan Technologies

          Contracts for the billion dollar renovation of the city’s Hemphill Water Treatment plant.

          Supplied more than $30 million worth of equipment in the renovation of the city's waste water treatment plants. It designs and manufactures equipment that purifies water using ultraviolet light. Trojan won the exclusive right to provide their equipment to the three Atlanta wastewater treatment plants.

          Mayor Bill Campbell’s public works officials required that all bidders for the construction contract use the Trojan technology, giving Trojan a guarantee of $30 million in sales.

Eco-Tech, Inc.

          Eco-Tech is a white-owned firm, and has subcontracts for the billion dollar renovation of the city’s Hemphill Water Treatment plant.

          The prime contractor is Harbert Construction.  Eco-Tech and another white-owned firm, Wickliffe, were subcontractors to Harbert, and supplied $400,000 in equipment on the Hemphill Water Treatment contract. BUT minority business owner, Fred Prewitt, submitted falsified invoices to the prime contractor (Harbert Construction) for at least $142,220 worth of purchases so that Harbert could meet Atlanta’s discriminatory minority participation goals. FBP / Prewitt claimed that he had supplied the $142,220 worth of purchases to either or both of Eco-Tech and Wickliffe.

          However, officials with both of these white-owned contractors have distanced themselves from FBP Contractors, saying that Prewitt’s FBP company didn’t supply any equipment or services. Representatives from Eco-Tech and Wickliffe have stated that they supplied $400,000 worth of equipment and that FBP did not provide any equipment or services.

          According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Jerry Wickliffe, president of The Wickliffe Company, said "FBP had absolutely nothing to do with that deal."

          Also according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "Herbert Timmerman, president of Eco-Tech, also said Prewitt had nothing to do with his $114,220 sale of equipment. Bill Harbert has refused to talk with reporters."

Nude Dance Club Owner

          The federal probe also includes the owner of a nude dance club, Michael Childs, and a friend, Dewey Clark.

          Michael Childs owns the Club Nikki VIP. His friend and former Mayor Campbell employee, Dewey Clark, was the alleged go-between in delivering bribes from Childs to Campbell in order to retain the liquor license for Club Nikki VIP.

          Michael Childs is also the nephew of Andrew Young, the black former Atlanta mayor and United Nations Ambassador.

          Childs and Clark alleged to federal authorities that Mayor Bill Campbell took bribes from them in order to protect Childs’ liquor license for the nude dance club. Mayor Campbell reneged on the bribe, and failed to protect Childs' liquor license, according to testimony.

          Childs’ friend, Dewey Clark, not only worked in Mayor Campbell’s office but also lived in a basement apartment in Campbell’s home for 6 years. Mr. Clark is 39 years old, and earned $39,000 per year as an administrative assistant in Mayor Bill Campbell’s office.

          Clark, who now is a manager at another club owned by Michael Childs, the Gentleman's Club, was special assistant to Mayor Campbell until his resignation in May 1999. According to Clark’s city personnel file he was rated "highly effective" during his last performance review in August 1996.

          According to affidavits, Mayor Campbell’s employee-cum-tenant had a disagreement with Campbell and resigned to go to work for club owner Michael Childs.

          Michael Childs is indeed a colorful figure: he is facing federal arson charges for hiring someone to burn down the businesses of four of his competitors. The government alleges they have a tape recording of Childs making arrangements to burn down a competitor’s club.

          Mayor Campbell revoked Club Nikki VIP's liquor license in May 1999. Prostitution and other illegal activities were alleged against the club. The revocation of the liquor license is being appealed, during which time Club Nikki continues to serve liquor.

          Campbell has denied the allegations that he took bribes.

Sable Communications, Inc. - Former President George Greene

          Mr. George Greene appears to be a successful black businessman.  Greene’s "successful black entrepreneur" history is long, troubled, and is apparently based upon fraud and largely falsified credentials.

          For example: In the 1970's Greene started a string of insurance agencies, mostly in poor and minority neighborhoods, that other, legitimate insurers avoided. Greene has never obtained an insurance license, but he hired agents to write policies -- most of these polices were a new kind of 1970's automobile coverage called "no-fault."

          According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, a BellSouth executive in Miami said "I thought he was a visionary for African-American economic development and business development here in the South Florida area." Wilbert Holloway has been acquainted with Greene since the 1970s.

          Greene owned 22 insurance agencies in 4 states by 1980. At least 6 of these were located in Georgia.

          George Greene’s main business was selling insurance policies and collecting premiums for American Interstate Insurance Co. of Georgia. Greene's employees were supposed to deduct a commission -- 12 to 15 percent -- before forwarding the premiums to American Interstate.

          But, allegedly at Greene’s direction, his agents sent the insurance premiums -- totaling up to $291,000 by 1980 -- to a holding company in Miami which Greene had established. Subsequently, Greene refused to turn over the premiums to underwriter American Interstate.

          Curiously, the federal lawyers in the current corruption investigation downplay Greene’s absconding with American Interstate’s insurance premiums as "a simple business dispute".

          Nonetheless, Greene was forced to settle with American in 1982 and paid $335,812 to American Interstate. Fulton County’s Superior Court Judge William W. Daniel presided over the hearing.

The Falsified Credentials of George Greene:   A recent resume for George Greene purports that in 1965 he earned an "A.S. degree" from the University of Miami.  But, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "Sandra Perryman, a spokeswoman for the school's registrar, said records show Greene attended classes only from September 1961 to January 1962.   He received no degree, Perryman said."

          Also according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution "Greene also said on the resume that he "founded" the 26-year-old Miami-Dade Chamber of Commerce, which promotes black-owned businesses.

          But when Dorothy Baker, the chamber's president and chief executive, checked her founders' list, none of them were 'Greene.'   "I don't see his name," Baker said. "These are our articles of incorporation, and I don't see his name."

          As of June 2000, Mr. Greene, the former president of Sable Communications, Inc., has been forced to plead guilty to charges of attempting to influence contracting decisions by Fulton County. Greene entered his plea in federal court in the face of charges that he bribed Fulton County Commissioner Michael Hightower.

          On June 6, 2000 Michael Hightower admitted receiving $25,000 from Greene and pleaded guilty to public corruption.   Hightower resigned his post as Fulton County Commissioner the same day.

          In U.S. District Judge Richard W. Story’s courtroom on June 8, 2000, Mr. Greene admitted that he had paid bribes to former Fulton County Commissioner Hightower to secure Fulton County contracts for his firm in 1998 and 1999.

          Sable Communications’ contracts with Atlanta have been rescinded, and the company has been been banned from bidding on Atlanta city contracts for three years.

          Sable Communications has distanced itself from its former president in the hopes of retaining lucrative Atlanta contracting business.

          Under Greene’s former leadership, Sable had entered into contracts with the city of Atlanta for the installation and maintenance of pay phones at the Hartsfield Atlanta International Airport, and also had contracts for building the 911 emergency telephone system in Atlanta. Greene’s self-serving and misleading press releases declared that his firm won a 5 year contract to operate 1400 pay phones at the airport. Subpoenaed documents, however, show Greene’s Sable Communications was a very minor player in this contract. It purchased 74 telephones for $13,500 from AT&T in this contract, which represents less than 6% of the contract total.

George H. Greene the Black Entrepreneurial Player:  Apparently, George H. Greene perceived himself as a "player" in Atlanta business and political circles. At a 1998 fundraiser Greene could be seen greeting, hugging, and laughing with elected officials from Atlanta and Fulton County. Mr. Greene also appeared to be on a close, first name basis with the largest political contributors to black Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell’s mayoral campaigns as well as with contributors to the campaign of Fulton County Commissioner Michael Hightower.

          According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, who Greene knew and the circumstances of his relationship with them are now key elements of a federal investigation into corruption in local government in Atlanta and Fulton County.

          An ongoing federal investigation into corruption in the Atlanta and Fulton County contracting process includes charges that Greene paid bribes at the 1998 fundraiser to Michael Hightower, and that the bribes continued through 1999. Greene apparently hoped to use the bribes to secure lucrative Atlanta and Fulton County technology contracts for Sable Communications, of which he was president at the time.

          Former Fulton County Commissioner Michael Hightower has since resigned.

          A locally important black businessman in Atlanta, Mr. Cornell McBride Sr., may be no stranger to the intricate requirements of the political payoffs which are required to secure business in Mayor Campbell’s Atlanta. Mr. McBride is a good friend of Mr. Greene’s, and according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, McBride said "... the one question I have for all politicians and all governments is: Tell me any person who has ever gotten a contract from a city or a county or a national government without being politically connected," McBride said. "Show me that one person."

          Thus McBride attempted to justify the corruption and influence peddling which seems to pervade Atlanta and Fulton County’s minority set-aside program.

Fulton County Commission Chairman Mitch Skandalakis

          [Posted Oct. 2000] -- Mitch Skandalakis is a Republican, and he is white.  The federal grand jury investigating public corruption in Atlanta and Fulton County is examining former Fulton County Commission Chairman Mitch Skandalakis' financial dealings with a contractor.

          A 1997 interview that Mitch Skandalakis gave seems to tell the story of corruption. In the interview, Skandalakis complained to a reporter that it was unfair that Mayor Bill Campbell had a salary in the 6 figures while he, Skandalakis, was earning a mere $17,000 as a County Commissioner. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Skandalakis said: "I think [with] the system that pays that kind of salary, ultimately, you'll get what you pay for," Skandalakis said. "[You will get] The kind of public servants who will take it [the salary] and then take bribes, to get by."

          On Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2000, in response to a federal subpoena, officials from Fulton County turned over almost 3 dozen boxes of papers relating to former Fulton County Commission Chairman Mitch Skandalakis.

          The subpoena called for for all files between 1993 and 1998 which pertain to the activities of Mitch Skandalakis, including expense records, travel expenses, and cell phone records.

Mitch Skandalakis pleads guilty 12/16/03

"Atlanta - A former Fulton County Commission chairman pleaded guilty yesterday to making false statements to an FBI agent during a corruption investigation.

"Mitch Skandalakis, who unsuccessfully ran for lieutenant governor in 1998, admitted he lied about official actions he took to benefit a business owner who paid him $75,000.

"In return for his plea, prosecutors agreed not to pursue any other charges and to recommend a six-month prison sentence.  Sentencing was set for Feb. 12 [2004]."

Washington Times 12/17/03, page A14.

          Especially sought under the federal subpoena are records about the sale of property tax liens by Fulton County as well as information about the two companies that purchased the liens -- Capital Asset Research Corporation, and Vesta Holdings. The president of Vesta Holdings, John "Buddy" Ramsey, was also an employee of Capital Asset Research Corporation and is a lifetime friend of Mitch Skandalakis.

          Records reveal that on at least 2 occasions Mitch Skandalakis reported income from Sable Communications, which was founded by indicted minority businessman George H. Greene. George Greene has pleaded guilty in the probe to bribing Skandalakis’ fellow Fulton County commissioner Michael Hightower, who has since resigned. Former Commissioner Hightower and Skandalakis’ former chief of staff on the Fulton County Commission, Mr. Josh Kenyon, have both entered guilty pleas in accepting bribes from Mr. Greene.

          Skandalakis went to work for JRO in 1999 after resigning his position as Fulton County Commissioner. 

JRO Company

          In 1999 former Fulton County Commissioner Mitch Skandalakis went to work for JRO Company. JRO was a generous contributor to Mr. Skandalakis' losing 1998 campaign for lieutenant governor. In the face of the current federal investigation, JRO fired Mr. Skandalakis this month, attempting to distance itself from the corruption probe.

          Public records reveal that JRO, through its owners and family members, gave at least $14,400 to Skandalakis’ lieutenant governor campaign in 1997/1998.

          It turns out that JRO is has significant contracting business with Fulton County for the coating of water lines and other water-related services. Since 1992, JRO has received $21 million in contract business from Fulton County.

          Mark Accetturo is the head of JRO’s Atlanta office. Besides JRO’s $14,400 contribution to Skandalakis’ campaign for lieutenant governor, Accetturo and JRO principle Reynolds each personally gave $1,000 to Fulton County Commission Chairman Mike Kenn’s political campaign.


Links and Sources:

Subpoenas show broad city probe 08/19/00 Atlanta Journal-Constitution
[Last known link http://www.accessatlanta.com/partners/ajc/newsatlanta/investigation/0819.html ]

Fulton turns over county records to federal officials 08/02/00 Atlanta Journal-Constitution
[Last known link http://www.accessatlanta.com/partners/ajc/newsatlanta/investigation/county0802.html ]

Club fight fueled bribe talk, Campbell says 07/21/00 Atlanta Journal-Constitution
[Last known link http://www.accessatlanta.com/partners/ajc/newsatlanta/investigation/campbell0721.html ]

Mayor's aides say club owner behind bribery charges 07/20/00 Atlanta Journal-Constitution
[Last known link http://www.accessatlanta.com/partners/ajc/newsatlanta/investigation/dewey0720.html ]

City bars embattled contractor 07/12/00 Atlanta Journal-Constitution
[Last known link http://www.accessatlanta.com/partners/ajc/newsatlanta/investigation/sable2.html ]

FBI investigation looks at the many connections of businessman Greene: Key figure in Atlanta/Fulton County probe has pleaded guilty to bribing commissioner 07/08/00 Atlanta Journal-Constitution
[Last known link http://www.accessatlanta.com/partners/ajc/newsatlanta/investigation/greene.html ]

Grand jury looks at Skandalakis deals 06/20/00 Atlanta Journal-Constitution
[Last known link http://www.accessatlanta.com/partners/ajc/newsatlanta/investigation/skan.html ]

Skandalakis: A look at the former rising star now under federal scrutiny 06/21/00 Atlanta Journal-Constitution
[Last known link http://www.accessatlanta.com/partners/ajc/newsatlanta/investigation/skan2.html ]

FBI probes could have wide reach 06/11/00 Atlanta Journal-Constitution
[Last known link http://www.accessatlanta.com/partners/ajc/newsatlanta/investigation/reach.html ]


End Atlanta - Federal Probe into Racial Set Aside Corruption

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