Rev. Mitzi Bickers was in handcuffs and leg irons as she made her first appearance in federal court on Thursday.
The well-connected political campaigner plead not guilty to an 11-count indictment charging her with money laundering and taking $2 million in bribes to steer city contracts to at least 2 contractors.
She was released on $50,000 bond on Thursday according to Channel 2 Action News.
The 23-page federal indictment details Bickers' spectacular fall from grace as a political operative with friends in high places.
Bickers was an only child of Rev. Benjamin Bickers, a boyhood friend of Martin Luther king Jr. She was raised in the church founded by her father in southeast Atlanta.
He joked that politicians who visited Emmanuel Baptist Church always won state elections.
After Bickers graduated from Spelman College, she became an associate minister at Emmanuelf. She took over the church leadership when her father died of cancer in 1998.
In 2003, Bickers opened her own political consulting firm to help both Republican and Democratic candidates win elections in several states.
She helped Kasim Reed win his first term as mayor defeating Mary Norwood in a 2009 runoff.
She also helped Republican Thad Cochran get re-elected to the U.S. Senate in Mississippi in 2014, and she organized voter turnout efforts for Tony Yarber's mayoral campaign in Jackson, Miss. in 2014.
Mayor Reed showed his gratitude by hiring her as the city's human services director in 2010. She resigned in 2013 following a financial disclosure violation.
Reed distanced himself from Bickers after he was served with a federal subpoena naming Bickers and her friend Keyla Jackson in a bribery investigation.
"[Bickers] worked on my campaign and helped get me elected mayor. That's true and well-known," said Reed at a press conference at City Hall in February 2017. "She was given a job in human services. I thought her background as a pastor made it an appropriate position for her."
After the press conference. Reed turned over 310 boxes to prosecutors containing 1.4 million documents related to Bickers' companies and her consulting clients.
Prosecutors charged two city contractors -- Elvin “E.R.” Mitchell Jr. and Charles P. Richards Jr. -- in the bribery investigation.
Mitchell plead guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery and money laundering.
Prosecutors said the two men gave $1.2 million in cash to Bickers in exchange for city contracts. Bickers was once vice president of one of Mitchell's construction firms.
She is accused of hiring another man to silence Mitchell after he talked to the FBI in 2015. Someone threw a brick through his living room window and placed dead rats on his doorstep and on his truck, according to Channel 2.
"You only hear about this kind of thing in movies," said William Perry, with Georgia Ethics Watchdogs.
He told Channel 2's Jodie Fleischer the incidents were crazy even for Atlanta politics.
In addition to the $1.2 million in bribes to Bickers, the feds say Mitchell funneled over $800,000 into 4 bank accounts she controlled.
According to documents, Bickers' spent the money on vacations to Aruba, Disney resorts and on Carnival cruise lines. She also opened several businesses, which closed after a few months, including Derrty South Entertainment, a strip club on the Mexican border in Texas.
In June 2011, Bickers purchased a $775,000 home on Lake Spivey in Jonesboro. Her neighbors included rapper T.I. and Married to Medicine's Mariah Huq.
According to AJC.com, Bickers paid for the 5 bedroom house in 2 massive installments of $524,000 in June 2011 and $251,000 in cash less than a year later.
WSB-TV's cameras were rolling when the feds hauled off a $46,000 Denali luxury SUV; a classic Cadillac car, $45,000 worth of waverunner jet skis and other vehicles from her property on Thursday.
EXCLUSIVE: Feds seize classic Cadie, jet skis and other pricey toys from former Atlanta city worker indicted on bribery charges. Details on Channel 2 Action News at 5&6. pic.twitter.com/YWf9Vxs5e4
— Tom Regan (@tomreganWSB) April 5, 2018
Mayor Reed couldn't explain how his former employee lived lavishly on her $57,000 annual salary. Nor could he say how she managed to help Mitchell secure $5.5 million in snow removal contracts from the city, despite his company not owning a snow plow.
According to Reed, Bickers' position in human services didn't authorize her to award city contracts to anyone.
Tony Yarber hired Bickers in 2014 to boost voter-turnout for his successful mayoral campaign in Jackson.
A few weeks after the election, Bickers and Yarber celebrated his victory at a strip club in New Orleans. Bickers paid a stripper to have sex with Yarber, according to a federal lawsuit filed by Yarber’s former administrative assistant, Kimberly Bracey, who claims he sexually harassed her.
In court documents, Bracey said she accompanied Yarber to Atlanta for fundraising events at Bickers' home in August 2014.
According to the Clarion-Ledger, Yarber's group took a boat ride to Bickers' home on Lake Spivey. They were met at the door by strippers wearing nothing but body paint, the lawsuit alleges.
Bracey said she was required to "watch the door" while a stripper serviced Mayor Yarber in one of Ms. Bickers' guest bedrooms.
Yarber and Bickers denied the allegations.
“That’s ridiculous,” Bickers told the Clarion-Ledger. “We do regular fundraisers. I’ve never known a fundraiser where sex was solicited.”