A county commissioner swaps her vote for $30,000 in casino chips. A public works supervisor demands $18,000 from a contractor looking for county work. A detention officer pockets $26,000 to help distribute drugs at the jail. These former Atlanta-area officials are now convicts. Their cases are part of a growing number of public corruption cases pursued by federal authorities, says the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The number of public corruption convictions in the area has spiked in recent years, making the federal court one of the nation’s highest in corruption cases.
Federal prosecutors say the consequences of corruption, including wasted tax dollars and broken public trust, are real. The number of convictions in the Northern District of Georgia rose sharply from just 6 in 2006 to 32 in both 2010 and 2011. Federal officials attributed the trend to aggressive enforcement. Chief FBI agent Mark Giuliano said public corruption investigations are the agency's No. 1 priority. Several years ago the bureau established the Atlanta Public Corruption Task Force so the FBI would work with local and state law enforcement agencies and maximize investigative efforts.