Bickers had no official role in city contracts, but prosecutors allege Bickers had influence at City Hall after working as a political consultant who helped Reed win his first mayoral bid in 2009.
In 2011, prosecutors allege Bickers used multiple bank accounts for herself and her businesses to execute dozens of transactions involving hundreds of thousands of dollars to purchase the Henry County residence.
Bickers is accused of receiving or depositing approximately $508,000 into her personal and business accounts during the first half of 2011. Only about $16,000 came from his municipal salary, according to Richardson. Some $350,000 that was in Bickers’ bank accounts came from cash, and tens of thousands more came from wire transfers sent by the two contractors.
The scheme described by prosecutors involved Elvin “ER” Mitchell Jr. and Charles P. Richards Jr. paying Feuds bribe to secure the city’s lucrative business. After Mitchell received over $1 million from the city for emergency snow removal during a January 2011 winter storm, he withdrew $390,000 in cash. In the days that followed, Bickers deposited about $293,000, the auditor, Richardson, testified.
Richardson said she reviewed thousands of financial records tracing the city’s money for work done by the contractors, and from there to Bickers, his companies and his associates. Richardson’s testimony was limited to 2011, although prosecutors have said she is likely to return to the stand later when the government presents her case.
Monday’s witnesses also included a former girlfriend of Bickers, Shedrieka Poole, who said the pastor usually transacted in cash and supported her financially. Poole said Bickers asked him to set up a business, Chateau Land, for property investments. Prosecutors said the company was a vehicle for the alleged bribery scheme.
Sharon Patterson, former Henry County resident and real estate agent, sold Bickers the Lake Spivey home. Bickers bought it for $775,000 in June 2011, depositing more than $500,000, including the nearly $300,000 Bickers secured in the days before the shutdown, the government said. Bickers funded the rest — more than $250,000 — through a personal loan from Patterson.
Asked by a prosecutor why Bickers chose a seller-financed mortgage, Patterson said, “I believed she wouldn’t be able to qualify for the loan.”
Asked by defense attorney Marissa Goldberg if it was unusual for a buyer to bring a lot of money to a closing, Patterson said no.
Bickers reimbursed Patterson as agreed in 2012.