Man sentenced for obstructing justice in City of Atlanta corruption investigation
ATLANTA - Shandarrick Barnes was sentenced to three years and one month in prison, with five-months credit for time served, for obstructing justice in the federal corruption investigation involving City of Atlanta government. Barnes threw a concrete block through the window of E.R. Mitchell’s home, and placed dead rodents on his porch and elsewhere hoping to stop his cooperation with federal law enforcement.
“Barnes thought he could thwart the City of Atlanta corruption investigation by throwing a concrete block through a federal witness’ window,’” said U. S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak. “Instead, investigators became even more resolute in their efforts to root out a pay-to-play system that undermines the public’s trust in government.”
“Barnes used the tactic of fear to try to stop Mitchell from cooperating with FBI agents,” said David J. LeValley, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “It is imperative that we send a strong message to anyone who would attempt to subvert law enforcement agents and officers in their search for the truth.”
“Witness intimidation is a serious crime and today’s sentence shows the consequences of obstructing a federal investigation,” said Thomas J. Holloman, Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation. “This investigation is ongoing and we encourage anyone with any information to come forward without fear of reprisal or intimidation.”
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, Jr. 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 federal 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 5:45 a.m., 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 that he threw the concrete block through Mitchell’s window. Barnes specifically acknowledged that he was aware of the 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. 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.
This case was investigated by the FBI and Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation.
First Assistant U.S. Attorney Kurt R. Erskine and Jeffrey W. Davis, Chief of the Public Integrity and Special Matters Section prosecuted 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.