Businessman sentenced to federal prison for bribes

Lohrasb “Jeff” Jafari, the former executive vice president of Atlanta engineering firm PRAD Group, Inc., was sentenced to five years in federal prison for bribing government officials from city of Atlanta and DeKalb County and evading taxes.

According to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office Northern District of Georgia, Jafari was sentenced for paying bribes to two city of Atlanta officials in exchange for steering city business worth millions of dollars to his company, paying bribes to a former DeKalb County government official in an attempt to obtain county contracts, and evading more than $1.5 million in taxes.

According to the charges and other information presented in court, from 1984 to 2018, PRAD Group was an architectural, design, and construction management firm headquartered in Atlanta that performed services for the city of Atlanta and DeKalb County. Jafari served as PRAD Group’s executive vice president and oversaw PRAD Group’s finances.

From January 2003 to February 2017, Adam Smith was Atlanta’s chief procurement officer and supervised purchasing activities and expenditure. From April 2011 to May 2016, Jo Ann Macrina served as Atlanta’s commissioner of the Department of Watershed Management and was responsible for an annual budget exceeding $500 million.

The news release states that Jafari gave Smith and Macrina cash and other items of value to obtain business with Atlanta. Smith and Macrina allegedly conspired with Jafari to ensure that PRAD Group received city business worth millions of dollars.

Jafari reportedly paid Smith more than $40,000 in cash with the intent to influence him. U.S. Attorney’s Office officials said payments were made regularly in the bathroom of restaurants.

Additionally, Jafari reportedly promised Macrina a job with PRAD Group and—directly or through a PRAD Group employee—gave Macrina $10,000 in cash, jewelry, a room at a luxury hotel in Dubai, a luxury shopping trip in Dubai, and landscaping work at her home. The news release states that Macrina worked for Jafari and PRAD Group after working for city of Atlanta. Jafari and/or PRAD Group paid Macrina $30,000 in four separate payments from June 2016 to September 2016.

A news release also states that Jafari told Smith to lie to FBI agents after becoming aware of a federal investigation into his bribe payments.

Jafari was also sentenced for crimes concerning DeKalb County government.

DOJ officials said the FBI conducted undercover operations using a confidential source who at the time was a high-ranking DeKalb County official. During two recorded meetings, the confidential source met with Jafari at local restaurants where Jafari sought assistance from the confidential source to obtain work in DeKalb County. The news release states that after the meetings, Jafari directed the confidential source to the bathroom of the restaurants where Jafari paid the confidential source between $1,000 and $1,500 in cash.

“The public paid a heavy price from every project unfairly awarded to Jafari’s companies through corruption, and he then compounded his harm by never paying any tax on his substantial personal income. His greed delivered a hard blow to public trust in honest and fair government, but this sentence underscores our commitment to prosecuting corruption in any form,” said U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Buchanan.

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