New indictment means smaller case against former DeKalb school superintendent and others

Posted: 12:00 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013

BY RHONDA COOK – THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION

Former DeKalb County School Superintendent Crawford Lewis, his former chief operating officer and her ex-husband are facing a third version of a racketeering case first brought against them more than three years ago, but now there are fewer charges, fewer schools and fewer taxpayer dollars involved and two names have been added as unindicted co-conspirators.

Although the case against Lewis, former COO Pat Reid and architect Tony Pope has gotten smaller, DeKalb County District Attorney Robert James still says they are racketeers who enriched themselves at the expense of taxpayers and schoolchildren, personally profiting from school constructions contracts.

The DeKalb District Attorney’s Office has not detailed the reason for the leaner, smaller case, but acknowledged that prosecutors streamlined it with a second superseding indictment, returned July 18, in time for the Oct. 28 trial date.

AND

There are four components to the complex case of racketeering as it is laid out now: the details of construction at Columbia High School and to a lesser degree the McNair Cluster Elementary School; Lewis and Reid allegedly using their positions to buy cars at prices far below their value; Lewis’ use of his county-issued credit card; and Lewis and Pope allegedly interfering with the investigation into their actions.
Much of the indictment portrays Lewis as a passive participant who allowed Reid, known as Pat Pope when she was the district’s COO, to manipulate the system to benefit herself, her then-husband and her boss, the superintendent. Lewis knew what was happening, according to the indictment.

“Without hesitation or question, Crawford Lewis approved Pat Pope’s financial decisions regarding DCSD’s compensation to Tony Pope’s firm made with DCSD,” the indictment said. “Many of those financial decisions directly and indirectly benefited Tony Pope and Pat Pope (Reid). Crawford Lewis established an environment in which Pat Pope (Reid) managed DCSD’s construction department with few, if any checks and balances. Crawford Lewis permitted Pat Pope (Reid) to manipulate DCSD’s construction department’s processes and procedures and to issue lucrative contracts to contractors working with and paying Tony Pope’s firm.”

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This entry was posted in Co-conspirators, Crawford Lewis, Criminal / RICO Trials, DeKalb County, Georgia, Fraud & Corruption, Heery Mitchell Civil Case, School Construction, SPLOST III, SPLOST IV and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to New indictment means smaller case against former DeKalb school superintendent and others

  1. Fred in DeKalb says:

    I’m surprised that no one has commented on this The reduction in charges seem consistent with assertions of overcharging by DAs around the country. We saw that recently in DeKalb with the Schneiderman case. Given that the judge has deemed Heery does not have a case against DeKalb, hopefully there will not be any more delays. Three years is too long for this trial to begin.

    Regardless of what you believe regarding guilt or innocence, we should all agree its time to put this case behind us.

  2. Word Wall says:

    Strange case — both overcharging and foot-dragging by the DA. It looks like lewis will face the bribery charges but not full RICO charges of running the school system as a criminal enterprise. It really is getting to the point Clew can claim he did not get his constitutional rights — to a Speedy trial!

  3. concernedmom30329 says:

    I think it has been mostly Lewis et all asking for delays. (Not going to trial reduces the chances of going to jail, right.) In the beginning there were issues surrounding his attorney, but I think other delays have been requested by him or opposed by the Judge (related to civil suit).

  4. Fred in DeKalb says:

    I have a hard time understanding why someone who believes they are innocent requesting delays as the attorneys are still getting paid during this time. I’ve heard there were requests asking for financial assistance to help with the expenses incurred. Speaking for myself, I would want to get this over with as quickly as possible so that I could move on.

    I think DA James will have a lot of questions to answer about this prosecution.

    +++

    DSW NOTE:
    Read this post from the old blog on Lewis delaying the trial – http://dekalbschoolwatch.blogspot.com/2010/08/channel-5s-amanda-davis-interviews-dr.html

  5. howdy1942 says:

    I have long since lost confidence in the DA, in his ability to prosecute Lewis/Pope, and in any chance of finding a jury in Dekalb County that would even convict Lewis or Pope. Schneiderman was a gross waste of taxpayer resources. Even though she was found guilty, the time she got was certainly not worth the taxpayer resources spent. Cases such as Schneiderman, Lewis/Crawford, corruption in the Dekalb County Government, corruption in the Dekalb County School System – all of these have led me to abandon any thought that Dekalb can change, especially the School System. I look forward to forming our own city, electing our own smaller and more accountable government, and one day having our own school system.

  6. For clarity for our readers: Andrea Sniderman was convicted of lying and obstructing – not of murder. In the end, the DA dropped the murder charges.

  7. Dr. Lewis fired Dr. Stanley Pritchett, the head of construction during SPLOST II after a terrible audit blamed him for much of the cost overruns. He was a former principal with no prior construction experience, so it’s no surprise he failed at the job.

    Read the fascinating audit here: https://dekalbschoolwatch.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/splost-letter-and-audit.pdf

    Lewis said he hired a search firm to find a replacement for Pritchett. After a short ‘search’, he came up with Pat Reid and presented her to the board. He neglected to give her full name, Pat Pope, wife of Vincent (Tony) Pope, a construction architect with several DCSS contracts under his belt, and head of the company Vincent Pope Architects. We later found out that Pat Pope had also been serving as a consultant to Lewis on SPLOST projects for two years – while also serving as an officer in her husband’s company. [So, she was not a result of any search firm — and any firm that was paid to ‘find’ her should be investigated.]

    But still, Lewis presented hiring Reid/Pope as an ’emergency’ and a ‘lucky find’. The board approved the hire. They later found out her actual identity and Lewis promised that Tony Pope would just finish his current projects and would not be allowed to have more. That, of course, didn’t happen and Lewis himself continued to sign agreements allowing Pope Architects to continue working with DCSS. Pope also wormed his way in working as a sub-contractor under other official contractors with DCSS.

    For more info check out these web pages:

    http://www.dekalbschoolslawsuit.com/
    http://www.dekalbschoolslawsuit.com/public_documents/

    The old DSW blog tried to get a petition going to drop the lawsuit and stop spending on legal fees, but apparently not as many people actually care enough as you might think. They only got 75 signatures: http://www.change.org/petitions/settle-dekalb-schools-heerymitchell-lawsuit

    May of 2012: Costs to DCSS in the lawsuit: $37 million and counting
    http://blogs.ajc.com/get-schooled-blog/2012/05/03/dekalb-lawsuit-cost-now-at-37-million-pass-me-the-aspirin/

    Oh – and the DA? Why, remember? He says the Board can police themselves!! (With Gene Walker hovering over his shoulder)
    https://dekalbschoolwatch.wordpress.com/2012/02/10/dekalb-da-robert-james-its-the-boards-job-to-police-themselves/

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