Man pleads guilty to obstructing justice in City of Atlanta corruption investigation
ATLANTA - Shandarrick Barnes has pleaded guilty to obstructing justice in the federal corruption investigation involving City of Atlanta government. The defendant threw a concrete block through the window of E.R. Mitchell’s home, and placed dead rodents on his porch and elsewhere hoping to thwart his cooperation with federal law enforcement.
“Barnes threw the concrete block through Mitchell’s dining room window to get him to ‘shut up,’” said U. S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak. “Instead, that violent act made Mitchell even more resolute in his cooperation with federal law enforcement. Barnes now faces a significant prison sentence because he decided to obstruct a federal investigation.”
“Attempts to subvert justice, whether through intimidation of witnesses or by any other means, will not be tolerated. The FBI will expend any resources necessary to ensure that those who seek to obstruct criminal investigations are held accountable for their actions. This plea by Shandarrick Barnes is evidence of the FBI’s commitment to protect those willing to cooperate with law enforcement’s efforts to improve their communities,”
“Individuals who obstruct justice will be held accountable for their actions. Intimidation of witnesses is never acceptable,” said James Dorsey, Acting Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation. “This investigation was complex and multifaceted, and it underscores the reason we are committed to working with our law enforcement partners to dismantle any and all public corruption schemes.”
According to U.S. Attorney Pak, the charges, and other information presented in court: In late July 2015, special agents with IRS and the FBI approached E.R. Mitchell for an interview relating to an ongoing investigation into corruption at the City of Atlanta. During the meeting, agents discussed corruption allegations as well as potential tax improprieties. Shortly after the IRS and FBI agents approached and interviewed him, Mitchell informed others that federal law enforcement had spoken with him and was asking questions.
Mitchell was interviewed on September 2, 2015, by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and FBI and IRS agents and confessed to regularly paying “up-front money” for City of Atlanta contracts. On September 8, 2015, Mitchell returned to the office and completed a second debriefing with prosecutors and agents.
On September 11, 2015 at approximately 5:30 a.m., Shandarrick Barnes threw a concrete block with the words “ER, keep your mouth shut!” written on the side, through a plate glass window in Mitchell’s home. When Mitchell emerged from the house to see who had thrown the block, he saw that dead rats had been placed on his porch, car and in his mailbox. The police and FBI were summoned to the scene and law enforcement obtained security footage from the subdivision. The video revealed a car that appeared to match Barnes’ vehicle left the area minutes after the block was thrown through the front window. Further investigation by agents suggested that Barnes was involved.
On July 13 and August 17, 2016, Barnes was interviewed by the FBI and IRS. During the interviews, he admitted he threw the concrete block through Mitchell’s window. Barnes specifically acknowledged that he was aware of the IRS tax investigation into Mitchell and others and that agents had asked about Mitchell’s taxes as well as payments Mitchell made to businesses associated with Barnes’ employer. He was well aware that Mitchell was actively cooperating with agents. He said he was livid and his decision to throw the brick through Mitchell’s window was motived by his desire to hinder Mitchell’s communication with agents concerning possible tax violations. He said he felt that Mitchell’s communications to federal law enforcement would negatively affect his employer’s businesses. Barnes was concerned that the communication with agents was detrimental to obtaining other business that he and others were actively seeking at that time.
Sentencing for Shandarrick Barnes, 41, of Atlanta, Georgia, is scheduled for February 7, 2018.
This case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kurt R. Erskine and Jeffrey Davis are prosecuting the case.
For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at USAGAN.PressEmails@usdoj.gov or (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia is http://www.justice.gov/usao-ndga.