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.
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.”