Public corruption case in DeKalb County, GWCCA lost in din over Atlanta corruption

By David Pendered

Federal prosecutors have closed a public corruption case involving more than $100,000 in bribes paid to a public official for contracts that involved millions of dollars in janitorial services for DeKalb County and the Georgia World Congress Center Authority.

centennial olympic park

Three corporate executives with Rite Way Services, Inc. were sentenced for bribing an official to win contracts with the Georgia World Congress Center Authority, which oversees Centennial Olympic Park. Rite Way’s services include landscaping and light bulb maintenance. Credit: yahglobal.com

The sentencing phase in January was overwhelmed in the din over the corruption case involving the city of Atlanta.

The first indictment in the janitorial contracts case was issued by a federal grand jury on Sept. 9, 2014. A number of media outlets have covered the ensuing steps of the prosecution – indictments, guilty pleas, and sentencing.

Coverage seems to have ebbed by the time three corporate officials with Alabama-based Rite Way Service, Inc., were sentenced for their involvement with the bribery scheme. This phase closes the case.

On Friday, Jan. 13, U.S. Attorney John Horn’s office issued a statement on the sentencing of the three executives.

On Tuesday, Jan. 17, Horn’s office released a statement that Atlanta contractor E.R. Mitchell had been charged with paying over $1 million in bribes to win city contracts. The statement spurred a flurry of coverage that remains ongoing.

On Wednesday, Jan. 18, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution published a story about the sentencing of the Rite Way executives.

The janitorial contracts involved in the Rite Way case were worth an undisclosed “millions of dollars,” according to a statement from Horn’s office.

The bribes came in the form of payments for the rent, utilities and a garage lease for a luxury apartment in Downtown Atlanta for the public official, Patrick Jackson, according to Horn’s statement.

In addition, the bribes included undisclosed cash payments, more than $24,000 in furniture for the apartment, a $5,000 deposit for event space for a party that Jackson threw, and other benefits, according to the statement.

georgia world congress center

The Georgia World Congress Center Authority was caught up in a federal bribery case when a former contracting officials was indicted for accepting bribes to benefit an Alabama-based company. Credit: news.atlanta.net

In all, the bribes amounted to more than $100,000 over the course of the scheme. It started in the summer of 2005 and continued through 2012.

At the time, Jackson was working fulltime and simultaneously as a contracting agent with DeKalb County and the GWCCA in connection with the janitorial contracts for the two governmental entities, according to the statement.

The multi-year contracts covered janitorial services in DeKalb, as well as the entities controlled by the GWCCA – Georgia World Congress Center, the Georgia Dome, Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Park, and other properties, according to the statement.

Jackson used his position to help those bribing him, “win, maintain and increase profits from multi-year janitorial services contracts with DeKalb County and the GWCCA worth millions of dollars,” according to Horn’s statement.

Here’s how the case was closed, according to Horn’s statement:

  • “Jackson, 55, of Loganville, was indicted by a federal grand jury on September 9, 2014 on one count of conspiracy to commit honest services fraud, and nine counts of honest services fraud. Jackson pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy, and was sentenced to four years, three months in federal prison, ordered to pay restitution to DeKalb County and GWCCA, and fined $20,000.
  • “[Former Rite Way Service, Inc., Georgia Division Manager] Cecil Clark, 55, of Jonesboro, waived indictment and pleaded guilty to a Criminal Information charging him with conspiracy to commit bribery on May 26, 2015. Ultimately, Clark was sentenced to serve one year, one month in federal prison, ordered to pay restitution to DeKalb County and GWCCA, and fined $20,000.

    U.S. Attorney John A. Horn

    U.S. Attorney John A. Horn

  • “[Former Rite Way President] Anthony Lepore, 64, of Birmingham, Ala., was sentenced to nine years in prison, to be followed by two years of supervised release. He was fined $115,000, and ordered to pay $165,415 in restitution.
  • “[Former Rite Way Regional Vice President] John Rife, 66, of Cumming, was sentenced to three years, one month in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release. He was fined $100,000, and ordered to pay $168,715 in restitution.
  • “[Former Rite Way Division Manager] Brian Domalik, 49, of Kennesaw, was sentenced to one year, eight months in prison, to be followed by two years of supervised release. He was fined $25,000, and ordered to pay $45,408 in restitution.”

Here’s the company description as provided in a report by bloomberg.com:

“Rite Way Service, Inc. provides janitorial and commercial services. The company offers various green cleaning services; and waste removal, recycling, pest control, painting, temporary services, interior plant care, carpet care and maintenance, snow removal, lawn and landscaping maintenance, general maintenance and repairs, grounds and parking deck maintenance, electrical service and light bulb maintenance, and hard-surface floor repair and enhancement services.

“It serves manufacturing/industrial/technology industries, commercial office buildings, financial institutions, airports, government buildings, schools, universities, public utilities, and facility management/property management industries. The company was founded in 1973 and is headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama. As of March 21, 2014, Rite Way Service, Inc. operates as a subsidiary of Diversified Maintenance Systems, LLC.”

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow. David was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina and is married to a fifth-generation Atlantan.

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