Death of key witness could jeopardize DeKalb school corruption trial

11Alive News is reporting that the death of Cointa Moody could jeopardize the Lewis/Pope school corruption trial.

DEKALB COUNTY, GA – A funeral at a Lilburn church marked the passing of Cointa Moody on Tuesday.

According to the medical examiner, the former school system employee died of natural causes.

Now there’s a question about whether her death could jeopardize one of DeKalb County’s biggest open corruption cases.

“I remember when I was a prosecutor, unfortunately there were cases that had to be dismissed because the state’s key witness was no longer available to provide testimony in the trial,” former DeKalb County District Attorney J. Tom Morgan told 11 Alive News.

Morgan now represents architect Tony Pope, who was indicted along with three others on bribery and corruption charges in 2010.

Click the link below to view the report:

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40 Responses to Death of key witness could jeopardize DeKalb school corruption trial

  1. Almost as if Morgan’s remark was tongue and cheek. Very funny Tom–guess your boy’s got a little less to worry about. Who’s going to save his butt, huh?
    This obviously smells to high heaven, but as ‘ol Tom basically said–this is “Justice in DeKalb”.

  2. pulling from another post:

    Another comment says:
    January 7, 2013 at 9:56 AM
    No mention of the opportune death of Conita Moody accused turned witness in the Rico case. She was only 50. She was also one of CL’s mistress’s. This sounds just like Ricky Rowe , Mayor Campell’ left hand man who had been flipped dying right before his trial. Campbell was sure he was going to walk. but then I called up Sally Yates office and told them that I knew about the entrance to the Friday night Poker games at the mayors house determined who got contracts. Within 5 minutes the FBI was calling me asking me how I knew about the Friday night Poker games at the mayors house. They said they didn’t let that out in the press. I explained that I worked for Another government facilities organization and that one day one of my quality minority contractors, came dejected in my office. I said what’s wrong, he said thank goodness you run a clean minority program, because most don’t he just relayed to me that he had just been to the Atlanta water project, and was asked by Ricky Rowe why he had even showed up at the prebid, Ricky then said F you know every contractor knows you have to be invited to the poker games on Friday nights at the Mayors house. Ricky then said you know I am the door man. Well of course the mayor always one the poker games, that is how the bribes. We’re passed not just on the Vegas and Bixoxi gambling trips. The FBI asked me for the contractors name, and asked if I thought he would testify I said I believe he is mad enough about being shut out of work to do it. Soon after Campbell took his Prison sentence plea.

    When I saw Dekalb fire Herry one of the best PM,s to go to related minority firms it was easy to see the corruption. It is well known that Mitchell like Russell just take their 51% and sit in their trailer and let the qualified whited contractor do the work in this town. But their are no kickbacks for the pat popes or Crawford Lewis, which is why they wanted to cut out the qualified white contractor , the ENR top 100 contractor, that a knows how to build quality on time.

    The Atlanta construction and real estate industry is small, the most shocking thing I ever heard was Crawford Lewis say was Pat Pope had a construction Engineering degree from Purdue. That is a lie or fraud. She claimed to go to the CAlumet campus. They don’t offer Constructuion Engineering degrees even to this day, any where but at the main West Layfayette. Campus. Only some technology degree for those who can’t make it through freshman engineering. How do I know. I was at Purdue at the time Pat claims this Engineering degree. I was a TA, and there were only 3-4 female undergraduate engineers and they were all white. There were two females in graduate school we were Both white. Pat Reid or Pope is such a fraud claiming she has a Purdue engineering degree she does not.

  3. The two ADs leaving for Cobb doesn’t help either, no? More smelly. Wonder what the rules are for getting former DAs that worked a case to testify to what they know. I think I know the answer–totally off-limits. Gotta wait for the book.
    Pulling out all stops to make sure none of ght right people get implicated in this trial.

  4. No, I think Tom Morgan is telling the truth. Any testimony Cointa Moody may have made is inadmissable as it can’t be cross-examined.

    In other DeKalb corruption news:

    DeKalb investigation seeks evidence of racketeering, bribery


  5. Whoever wrote that comment IF TRUE, may want to speak with the DA. Or, they may want to speak with J. Tom Morgan. He could use some help showing that Tony Pope was flim-flammed by his wife – or at least he thought she was his wife…

  6. Maybe its just me, but it just doesn’t feel right having Morgan quoted in articles on two different, but now simultaneous cases–and him representing a defendant in one of them. Hey, maybe he can get work with Ellis–or Ross now.
    Too damn tight a justice system community for my taste.

  7. Regardless of what she did/did not.or might have done- it is very sad that a 49 year old woman dropped dead from the stress of it all. I understand she was not one of the most nicest persons out there, and i understand she had some major roles and responsibilities as it relates to DCSD- but she was someone’s mother, daughter, sister, and perhaps wife. I suppose it saddens me as we in the Stephenson community just grieved the loss of the Mallett family. Too young, too soon, and too sad. May God have mercy on her soul

  8. howdy1942 says:

    I said a long time ago that Crawford Lewis and Pat Pope would never be prosecuted in Dekalb County. Sadly, I think that this is coming true.

    At this point, I’m ready to forget about Lewis, Pope, Heery Construction, and all the other legal pursuits involving the Dekalb County School Board. We’ve been pouring money down those rat holes for too long and we need to stop.

    I’m also ready for the Governor to remove the entire school board, including those recently elected, and appoint some people who don’t bring any bias or have any ax to grind to the school board. I’m ready for Atkinson to move on to her next assignment and pay her the $275,000 she craves. I’m ready to kiss the lawyers involved in all these cases goodbye. This will save Dekalb County taxpayers millions and get us started on the road back. I’m in favor of allowing these appointees remain in the job as long as necessary to address SACS’ concerns and get the focus of the school board back on educating our kids. I’m ready for someone to become superintendent who can manage a school system, someone who knows how to get the job done and not have to call in an army of consultants, someone who can keep track of things, someone who is focused on performance rather than the perks of the job, someone who will communicate personally with the community, and someone who knows how to hire, measure performance, motivate, and gets things done.

    In short, it is time to slam the door on this school board, its superintendent, and all the baggage that they have. And it is time to move on to a brighter day in Dekalb. Let’s get on with it.

  9. teachermom says:

    I agree it is time to move on. Honestly, at this point, I would rather have the crooks (alleged of course) just walk away than to spend another nickel in lawyers. This includes Atkinson, who has jumped onto the wagon already piled high with incompetents. Just go AWAY and let us have our county back. I am the stakeholder; mother, teacher, and 20+ year taxpayer.

    I demand that the watchdogs do their job. I’ve said it before, the worst of the incompetents in this mess are those whose job it was to stop this train wreck and didn’t, SACS, the Grand Jury, further up the State Board of Ed, and yes, the Governor. We know you ALL knew this was happening and turned a blind eye on the good people of DeKalb and their children. Why not save yourself more embarrassment and do the right thing now? It’s not too late to turn this ship around.

  10. DeKalb Inside Out says:

    What is the path for change here? What are we going to do different this time? Every board seat is up for reelection next year. In 2 years we will be exactly where we are today.

  11. thedeal2 says:

    Isn’t our path for change at least beginning with the removal of our BOE? Then our new BOE could replace the superintendent, who would presumably start fresh in the central office? This is how it worked in Miller County.

    Deal’s order to remove them:

    We will never get anywhere with the current board, superintendent, and top administrators. No amount of criticism, proof, or facts is going to turn them around. They know the facts; they just choose not to use them.

    Write the state board of education to let them know this is the only chance for our kids and county. We have never had an opportunity like this before.

  12. oh gosh teachermom, and howdy1942 I couldn’t agree with you more! Well said.

    We have spent something like $19 million on King & Spalding for the civil case, and are on the hook for at least another $20 million more and have not had our day in court yet! We have spent several hundred thousand on lawyers for former board members also named in the lawsuit. We have spent something like $200,000 on a lawyer for Crawford Lewis in the civil case as well… and we’re not sure if some of that went to his criminal lawyers. So, we’re into lawyers just on these SPLOST construction fiascos for around $50 million to round it off. And it could go another 50. So just STOP!

    But what happens if we stop now? We ‘could’ be in a Catch 22 – Heery Mitchell ‘could’ come after us to pay their legal fees if we drop the case. Who knows how much that would be?

    All this incompetence and extremely bad decision-making leads back to Crawford Lewis and his rubber-stamping board that endorsed every ’emergency’ action he brought for their approval. And although he makes us very angry, we really have concluded that he did what he did in order to stroke his own ego. There are numerous stories of insider preference, mistresses, social connections, sports tickets etc, but we’ve seen no evidence that he stole or funneled construction money to his own accounts (however we do not have access to evidence so we could be wrong). If there’s no proof, drop it. He’s broke. His family is heartbroken. His reputation is ruined. Seems like a fit enough punishment. Problem is — if it’s dropped, then he collects his pension for the rest of his life. What’s that? About !00k a year for say 20 years or so? Does he deserve that? We say No.

    Then there’s Pat Reid (aka Pat Pope) and Tony Pope. Is there a money trail? Can the DA prove that money was redirected into the Pope’s accounts? If so, who did it — really. Could it be that Pat fed Tony a pack of lies and told him that these contracts were approved? After all, Dr. Lewis DID sign the contracts. The board approved them. What more would a business person look for? Seems to us that the only player with truly nefarious actions is Pat. And she promised to never go down alone. She’s certainly not – she’s taking all the taxpayers of DeKalb along with her!

    So you see the quandary. It is the worst of tangled webs.

  13. Here’s a question I’ve had for a long time: Why do we have to pay all of these lawyers for the construction related lawsuits out of the general fund? Why can’t we pay it with SPLOST dollars – since it’s SPLOST-related. The general fund is the teacher and school staff fund — the fund that we had to cut hundreds of jobs from – I submit – in order to pay these attorneys!!

  14. VERY TRUE thedeal2! If the governor replaces the board, then the new board (or trustees or whatever) damn well better replace Atkinson and the rest of the top tier players in the system. THERE IS NO REASON ON EARTH to not be able to pull HR or finance reports at the touch of a button!! And to say they won’t do it because it’s too much trouble is outrageous! We need new heads of EVERY department. And Tyson must go. Along with Ramsey. All bad blood goes. Then do a true forensic audit for the past few years to determine where the money has gone – like the missing millions supposedly spent on textbooks. A true forensic audit should cost over $200,000. And then publish it for the people to see – do not bury it like the only one ever conducted back in 2004. Rebuild the system from the schoolhouse up. Set a reasonable class size, staff them with quality teachers and school leaders, then fund the Central Office with what’s left. Isn’t this the lie that Atkinson promised she would do?

    The taxpayers of DeKalb deserve a life saver. We are drowning. And we don’t want to simply be tossed a buoy, we want to be completely lifted out of the water, on to the boat and heading for shore!

  15. BTW deal, thanks for the doc from Miller County. I am going to publish this as its own post. The gov can’t say these things are true for one county and not for others.

  16. Denise McGill–its true that it is sad that Ms Moody isn’t alive–however, I wouldn’t be too sure she “died” per se.
    Howdy 1942–DSW2 says “There are numerous stories of insider preference, mistresses, social connections, sports tickets etc, but we’ve seen no evidence that he stole..” So Howdy, in one sense you are correct that Lewis won’t be convicted (maybe even tried) in Dekalb–because in my opinion, the state never had the case for RICO..and I believe they overswung on purpose. Pope’s another matter…

  17. DeKalb Inside Out says:

    Miller County
    1. Only half the board will be replaced in the next election
    2. It took 6 months for Deal to replace the board once the verdict came down from the state BOE
    3. No new Super there yet

    DeKalb County
    DeKalb would not get a new board until August and a new Superintendent until 2014. Cunningham, Walker, Woods, et al are beloved in their community. They are somebody like them gets elected. Jan 1 2015 we have the exact same board.

    Didn’t Johnny Brown get replaced because he wouldn’t follow the orders of the Walker 5? I don’t see how anything has changed.

  18. Does anyone know what was presented as evidence in Millar County that convinced the Gov. to remove the board? Are we so confident in the SACS report that we are assured it will be sufficient?

    Is anyone as worried as we are that Rep. Chip Rogers of ALEC’s Education Task Force ( may have stepped down from his seat as House Majoirty Leader at a very curious time considering he lives in Gwinnett County and is too young to retire?

    What’s worse than a corrupt BOE stealing your money and providing sub-par education? A worse BOE that might be appointed to replace them. ALEC would close down buildings and set up virtual education sweat shops where they steal your money, funnel it out of state, and fail miserably at the task of education. They would overload out of state teachers and spend tax dollars on advertising in other markets to bring new systems into the fold.

    Has anyone here started thinking of a list of suggestions for the Governor to consider as replacements or will we just sit and watch and do nothing?

  19. Are you sure about that Inside Out? We are thinking that the recently elected members only serve a 2 year term and then every seat goes up for election after 2 years (the others having finished a 4 year term).

  20. I think people forget that Rogers had ALEC’s task force, so focused on the tripe that he trotted out about taking a job at PBS. Fact is, my name for charter schools are now “SACS schools” in that SACS only steped up action across the board as the charter vote approached and then sent findings after the vote approved. DeKalb, Clayton and Atlanta carried the vote for the state to the extent that there were many here who were concerned about the charter commission for governance reasons but basically said, “DeKalb is so bad, I don’t care how many questiosn there are about unlimted expansion of charters, we need to do SOMETHING, ANYTHING”. I heard that many times. So we basically have a statewide law based on three county’s performances.

    I find GET’s prognosis (or something similar) to be very astute–we’re being hoodwinked and the Legislature, DOE and Governor’s actions bear vigilance and long-range thinking about governance implications. I can tell you this, we will get a “governor’s choice” Superintendent more or less as a negotiation point between the governor and the existing BOE–and probably only get a change in BOE Chairman (look at Atlanta).

  21. thedeal2 says:

    @DeKalb Inside Out – your facts are not correct on Miller County at all. It’s not easy to piece it all together, but here’s what I found through multiple articles.

    – It wasn’t the governor that delayed it; it was the state BOE (see timeline below).
    – It took several months for the committee to put together the recommendation for the new board members.
    – The superintendent WAS fired. He was suspended immediately and fired a month later.
    – Only two of the appointed board members served through the end of 2012, not half. All of the others are still serving (a majority).
    – The difference between this and Johnny Brown is that the BOE AND the superintendent would be new. Why the pessimism? Do you think we’re going to progress with the group we have now? Is there a better immediate solution than replacing the entire board and superintendent? We don’t have time to wait for elections and new legislation. Why wouldn’t a clean slate be better than the one we have now?

    Miller County timeline:

    Early November 2011 – Placed on probation, corrective actions due by May 2012, probation until June 2012
    November 28. 2011 – Initial state BOE hearing
    March 20, 2012 – Final state BOE hearing, recommends dissolution
    May 2012 – Governor appoints committee to recommend new members
    September 2012 – Governor signs order
    Early October 2012 – Superintendent suspended
    October 23, 2012 – Superintendent fired

  22. DeKalb Inside Out says:

    Act No. 592 provides that candidates elected to the DeKalb County Board of Education in 2012 will serve an initial two-year term that expires on December 31, 2014. Thereafter, all elected successors to members of the Board will serve shared four-year terms.

    Yeah, that’s what I am saying. Every board member will be up for election next year. Anything Deal does will be wiped out by Jan 2015. I don’t anticipate people changing their voting preferences.

  23. thedeal2 says:

    @DeKalb Inside Out, I think I’d be fine with new members until January 2015. What the less informed in our county tend to do is vote in incumbents. Cunningham, Walker, et al, would no longer be incumbents.

  24. thedeal2 says:

    There is also a Section 2 that appears to say that anyone who was not in Districts 2, 4, 6, and 8 could finish out their terms.

    SECTION 2.
    Those members of the Board of Education of DeKalb County who are serving as such on the
    effective date of this Act and any person selected to fill a vacancy in any such office shall
    continue to serve as such members until the regular expiration of their respective terms of
    office and upon the election and qualification of their respective successors.

  25. To the deal 10:27:
    It doesn’t matter what “our path” might be to first replace the BOE. These are shown to be political decisions that rely more on relationships (strategic, not friends) than process–the process is completely fluid. In this case, The Chair has influence as a member of Commerce Club and can facilitate things for Republican leadership–he gets that via the same reasons he was on the DK Dev Auth. Republicans will force change with deal making–they want a special person at Superintendant of their choice, so they say Walker can stay, but not at Chairman and we’ll avoid replacing the board– “you (Walker) fire Atkin-hole” and hire Mr. Republican favorite at Super.

  26. Concernedmom30329 says:

    Actually, Brown was way before the Walker 5. It was a totally different board, perhaps with the exception of SCW. No one else was around back then. It was actually several N. DeKalb board members who pushed the hardest to get rid of him, because they couldn’t control him.
    My impression of Miller County was the Governor gave them time to get their acts together. I think we should insist that the Governor not repeat that in DeKalb.

  27. Observer says:

    On March 23, 1933, the German Parliment met to consider passing a bill that Adolf Hitler had created called the Enabling Act. It was officially called the ‘Law for Removing the Distress of the People and the Reich.’ Why were the German people in such distress? Because their government was in utter chaos, and the German leaders wanted to reassure the people that everything would be ok. The only fly in the ointment was that the Nazis had, behind the scenes, caused the distress themselves by creating the crisis, so that they could step in and solve it. Sound familiar?

  28. thedeal2 says:

    @no effing way, what is your optimal solution at this point? Do you want to deal with a known unethical group, or be too scared of the unknown to at least try something? I don’t care about Republican, Democrat, atheist, Baptist, or otherwise. I have seen responsible leadership under all of those categories before. I want someone who is accountable and understands DeKalb parents have had enough. The current group is not scared of us, they are not scared of SACS, and they are not scared of the DA. That has been proven. I just don’t understand people who are more scared of something they haven’t seen than they are of the absolute rock bottom we have now. I guess we do get what we deserve, and if the majority of DeKalb wants to keep this board, then I don’t belong here.

  29. DeKalb Inside Out says:

    Thanks for the Miller County timeline and story on Brown.

  30. To deal:
    Not sure why you think I want the current players in here. I was just pointing out how things will be done–why things have waited until now (using SACS manipulatively)–it won’t be a panacea…and you don’t get to say anything about how things will be done. People have different reasons for being on this board. Some people want to rant, some people want to gather support, some people want to distract other people…my interest is to provide perspective. People don’t always fit into a “yes/no” box.

  31. joey54 says:

    It’s time to draw up a list of replacement board members that have sufficient support from each district. Does anyone know of a reason that Nancy Jester could not replace herself? there is overwhelming evidence that her own pursuit of Truth has put her at risk. “No good deed goes unpunished.” And on an even more somber and scary note, those of us who have observed, studied and/or participated in DCSS’ sagas for years know that it is not all that much of a stretch to find Ms. Moody’s death`very suspicious.

  32. Observer says:

    Watch these independent thinking public school products.

  33. DeKalb Inside Out says:

    DeKalb is more likely to follow the path of Sumter county in Southwest Georgia.
    April ’12 – SACS reviews Sumter county
    May ’12 – Sumter County Grand Jury recommends the Sumter (BOE) be removed
    Nov ’12 – BOE files lawsuit against state challenging the law that gives the Governor the power to remove elected officials
    Nov ’12 – Judge grants injunction before the State DOE meets with county board

    I don’t like what’s going on any more than you, but the Governor can’t be going around removing elected officials. They can be recalled by election, but they can not be removed for doing a bad job.

  34. waitaminit 1 says:

    Good point DIO–removal of local officials in local government by a governor has caused tremendous turmoil in one Midwestern state. It is entirely politically motivated by Republican governors and racial (mostly cities, not counties involved). Governor has used “state of economic emergency” to replace government functions with private firms much like tthe new small cities in North DKalb and Fulton have done. Essentially no municipal accountability.
    Dangerous precedent and slippery slope.

  35. Concernedmom30329 says:

    In Michigan, I presume that is the Midwestern state you are talking about, the state legislature passed laws allowing poorly performing and/or near bankrupt school systems to be entirely taken over by private operators. That is not at all equivalent to what the GA law says.
    The law was modified during/after the Sumter County case to withstand legal challenge.

    Keep in mind that the state has a fiduciary interest in school systems because they fund them, at least in some role.

    Do you think DeKalb can survive even another year without radical outside intervention?

    Better yet, are you willing to lend your time and energy to recall board members. To me, this is the most ideal situation. However, both my board members were just elected.

    What about yours?

  36. thedeal2 says:

    @Concernedmom, do you have any additional information on the law being modified after the Sumter County case? The judge’s ruling was just in November, and I can’t find anything after that.

    Also, it appears a big difference between the Sumter County issues and DeKalb County issues is that Sumter is purely board behavior. No one has an issue with the student achievement or school performance. Acting like babies and being removed for that is a lot different from failing an entire county of children.

  37. Concernedmom30329 says:

    I am mistaken — the law was modified early on. I thought Sumter was the first time the law was applied, but clearly this is a more recent development.
    I would hope that the State Board will see clearly that something has to give.

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  39. dekalbite2 says:

    “About 100k a year for say 20 years or so? Does he deserve that? We say No.”

    Well, Lewis worked more than 30 years (I think it was 34) so his high two was around $250,000 for his high two so he receives closer to $175,000 a year for life with a 3% raise every year plus he probably has at least half a million in his Board TSA. He is far from broke.

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