Crawford Lewis’ sentence is overturned on appeal


So he’s free at last! Crawford Lewis will not be going to prison and in fact, as far as we know, he is not only free to move about the cabin, but taxpayers will continue to pay his very large pension in perpetuity.  What a great gig for Crawford ! He could have ended up with years in prison like his cohorts but in testifying against them (which he really didn’t contribute all that much except to say that he ‘felt’ like Pat Pope was going to blackmail him), he put them away for decades, and will spend his life free as a bird.

Lewis was charged along with former DeKalb schools chief operating officer, Pat Reid, and her ex-husband, architect Tony Pope, on racketeering and theft counts, in connection with school construction projects.

Prosecutors let Lewis plead to a misdemeanor count of hindering and obstructing a law enforcement officer after he agreed to testify against Reid and Pope. After his testimony, both prosecutors and Lewis’ lawyer recommended a sentence of 12 months on probation and told Becker they believed Lewis had told the truth on the witness stand.

Becker instead ordered Lewis behind bars last year, saying he allowed the crimes to occur in his school district and then hindered an investigation. When asked to reconsider, she questioned the “credibility” and “believability” of Lewis’ testimony, “thereby implying that Lewis may have testified untruthfully,” the appeals court opinion said.

The appeals court on Thursday issued a harshly-worded opinon that said Lewis did not get fair treatment in Becker’s court. He is entitled to specific details about how he allegedly lied, the ruling said. The ruling also suggested that Lewis seek Becker’s recusal, so another judge can decide that issue.

Read more at the AJC >> Appeals court overrules sentencing of former DeKalb superintendent

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34 Responses to Crawford Lewis’ sentence is overturned on appeal

  1. Teachers Matter says:

    Just because he’s not going to prison does not mean he’s innocent. DCSD is a disaster and his “leadership” was the catalyst. So very sad for the kids!

  2. Here is a video of Ellis supporters (John Evans and Company) holding a press conference/protest asking that the DA not retry the Ellis case. The video over 5 minutes long. At about the one minute mark, notice who you can see in the background. That would be Gene Walker. Interesting, isn’t it?

  3. “Stay away from it. We don’t know who’s pushing which buttons and how. And Why. We don’t know all that.”
    -John Evans at a press conference asking the DA not to retry Burrell Ellis

  4. And let us remind you of this John Evans quote >>

    John Evans (President of NAACP DeKalb County Branch) was very transparent in his comments to the board and in his interview. His focus is on jobs and power. In fact, he said he couldn’t understand why you would bother to ‘get’ power if you weren’t going to ‘use’ it (to enrich certain people). His exact quotes were,

    …We have to take what we have and mandate that we want some black firms…

    …The makeup of this board and the makeup of this county almost demands that we have good representation from black law firms.

    …There is no need in having some power, influence, or whatever you want to call it, if you don’t use it.

    (Q: How does [avoiding open competition] help?) …It helps somebody make some money for Christ’s sake.

    He is even so bold as to describe his request for favoritism to black law firms as a ‘mission of mercy’!!

  5. Now, read those John Evans quotes alongside this Burrell Ellis quotes from the secret recordings made by his purchasing director, Kevin Walton >>
    (As reported by Bill Torpy, of the AJC)

    The tapes capture Ellis at a time when the mayor-like boss of this county of 700,000 residents was heading to a second four-year term and thinking about his legacy. He wasn’t thinking small, casting himself in the role of a latter-day Maynard Jackson, using county contracts like a rising tide to lift a lot of minority-business boats.

    “We have to think about the vision,” the Wharton School grad told Walton, holding up the example of the fabled Atlanta mayor and H.J. Russell, the African American construction firm that long has been an iconic minority business success.

    “We can make some millionaires,” Ellis told Walton.

    As an example of an opportunity missed, Ellis brought up a minority builder who came in second during a bidding process and could have been drawn into the mix.

    “It started me thinking there should be more minorities here,” he said. “Here’s an example of a brother who went before that commission and nobody gave him a second thought.”

    “Someone has to grab me,” Walton implored, saying he doesn’t automatically recognize which firms are minority owned.

    “I’m about to bring a couple strong brothers in this government,” Ellis said. “ I think the next (chief operating officer) is going to be a brother.” The next county attorney, too, he said would be a “brother.”

    Just got back from the Ellis trial. Anybody got hand sanitizer?

  6. Now, add those quotes to our earlier reports on the ‘relationships’ that abound in DeKalb >>

    Burrell Ellis, DeKalb CEO, was indicted yesterday (as we all know). The indictment claims that all the dirty work was done “at the offices of R.L. Brown”.

    R.L. Brown and Associates is an architectural firm that contracts to school districts. Robert L. Brown and Brad Bryant were appointed liaisons to the Governor for the appointment of new board members. Effectively, Robert Brown picked our new board members.

    Why was a vendor of DeKalb Schools selecting its board members? With the indictment of Burrell Ellis and attachment to R.L. Brown, everything just became a little more clear.


    Coming full circle, our ‘newest’ latest superintendent (the 4th in 6 years), Michael Thurmond, has placed himself on the board of a recently, hurriedly approved new DeKalb charter school — along with Jibari Simama. But that’s not all — Simama (formerly known as Fred Lewis) was appointed as president of the college by a board that included former school board chair, Gene Walker — and coincidentally, superintendent Michael Thurmond serves on the school’s foundation’s advisory board.


    DeKalb culture
    DeKalb Schools may have paid $15K for Simpson’s books and $22K for Cunningham’s pizzas, but that pales in compairson to the millions spent on R.L. Brown’s architectural firm. When he was a board member at Grady his company received millions of dollars in contracts with the hospital. R.L. Brown was selected as the liaison for appointing the new board members shortly before being named in Burrell Ellis’ endictment.

    This AJC report seems relevant to this conversation. “DeKalb school board members admit they voted last year to spend almost $1 million more on attorneys to ensure they had a black female attorney working with them … The two other firms – which also have African-American, Indian and Hispanic attorneys on staff – offered to do the human resources work for about $500,000 less … During the heated debate, board member Walker argued that to him diversity is only black and white. ‘I am a very, very race-conscious person,’ Walker said in October 2009. “I will never ever try to lead you to believe that I am race-neutral. I see color. I appreciate color. I celebrate color and I love color.’ …”



  7. cedar says:

    “Crawford Lewis’ sentence is overturned on appeal” ? I thought the motto was “no justice, no peace”. When do we riot? (Just Socratic questioning.)

  8. Just Wondering says:

    I wonder if Dr. Lewis ever considers the many people that were hurt by his actions? We are still feeling the ramifications of them today.

  9. Lewis doesn’t care. And we can say that with assurance.

  10. Curious says:

    Really, the appeals court simply upheld the deal Lewis made with the state. The judge apparently didnt think he testified truthfully as the plea deal required. She didn’t say how, though, so the appellate court sent it back to either make the findings that he lied or to uphold his deal with the state. BTW, The DA agreed with Lewis that the trial court was wrong.

  11. Still Waters says:

    Justice can indeed be fickle. Crawford Lewis has a decision overturned because the judge allegedly rescinded an agreement previously made. Yet, Lewis rescinded an agreement that affects the lives of thousands of teachers’ financial futures. He was in charge when he and the school board stopped paying into the previously agreed upon teacher alternative to social security, the TSA. Where is our justice?

  12. concerned citizen says:

    “Dr. Crook Lewis” – don’t you just love these degrees F & Fers have? Isn’t it splendid to see so many “doctors”? What’s worse, there are those who are impressed with this utter nonsense of “degrees.” Sadly, I have seen some pretty smart minorities fall right into this stupidity of “doctors of education.” Gag, gag. DeKalb is full of total incompetence and corruption. I cannot think of even one person in the Palace Guard who is good, decent, and competent. Not even one! Why would any smart person strive to get a “doctorate”? Sadly, at this point in their careers, these very silly people are already administrators, asst. principals, principals,area superintendents, who then inflict their pain of going through the process of getting their “degree” on the teachers and students.They make every kind of excuse for not doing their jobs and often say openly they’re “too busy” to do much for students and teachers because they’re “in school.” They “can’t afford the gas or they can’t afford the courses!” So, then DeKalb pays for their gas, their cars, and their courses. Isn’t that genius at work? I can name a hundred examples, and I’ve heard it all. No wonder the very silly fool Melvin Johnson can’t get anybody’s title correct: “Ur, eh, hum, Dr. no Mr. no Dr. well, er, um.” He’s totally unable to get past knowing anyone’s name, let alone anyone’s silly degree or not.

  13. dsw2contributor says:

    Sorry, but “Judge” Cynthia Becker’s stunt –breaching the agreement made by officers of her court, sending Crawford to jail, then fleeing town so that she could not be located– had absolutely nothing to do with justice. That stunt was about Cynthia Becker guaranteeing her reelection in 2016.

    In less than a year, all three branches of Dekalb County government have demonstrated that they are corrupt: The Ellis trial showed how the Executive branch shakes down county businesses, Boyer’s plea-deal (and the on-going investigations into her peers) show that the County Commissioners are crooks, and the Becker’s actions showed that the Judiciary won’t even try to appear impartial if it’ll help their reelection chances.

  14. bettyandveronica1 says:

    Do we the people need different representation? I plan to follow Mr. James a bit closer from now on.

  15. Until the Palace is totally cleaned out of the frauds, friends and family do not expect much change at DCSD. I can not wait for those 8 words in the GA constitution to be changed. It is far past time for the tax dollars of Dunwoody, Brookhaven and Chamblee go to their own school district and certainly not to the Bozos that run DCSD. DCSD mired in the muck of mediocrity since 2002! Heck of a job Crawford!

  16. thedeal2 says:

    Disappointing but not a surprise. This is DeKalb County, after all. Those who are profiting from the corrupt and unethical practices of the leadership in the county government and the school system are going to see their empire crumble in the coming years. The good and well-informed in this county are definitely in the minority (no implication of race in that statement), but the tide could be shifting. Instead of trying to change the system, we just need to get out of it via cityhood or annexation. How dare the group of criminals think they can either make us lie down and take it or move out. This is our county, too. I just hope I’m around to see it because I have just about had it with this county, and I feel like the school system improvement is way downstream of the whole cityhood thing. I’m not sure I can make my children suffer that wait. If, indeed, the cityhood groups are successful in wrenching away some revenue and eventually take the school dollars, the county will have a chance. Otherwise, we are looking at Detroit 2.0.

  17. Boy, we just couldn’t write this stuff if we tried…

    Both [Tony Pope and Pat Pope Reid] were convicted in a DeKalb County school construction scandal last year. Former Superintendent Crawford Lewis testified during the trial. In her order, Becker noted a “lack of complete and truthful” testimony in 9 specific areas from Lewis. Winne is reviewing Becker’s order and will have more details on Channel 2 Action News.

    Lewis was accused of knowingly signing off on a scheme in which DeKalb schools Chief Operating Officer Patricia Pope, now Pat Reid, funneled work to her architect husband, Tony Pope. Prosecutors said the fraudulent payments totaled more than $2.3 million.

    So — in the end, the whole thing was for naught. Lewis is free and now the Popes are free. The taxpayers are left holding the bag for all of the bills for the lawyers, the courts and Lewis’ pensions – as well as leaving all of the children of DeKalb the legacy of a pitiful, broken school system that teachers continue to leave in droves, due to the cuts to their pensions as well as their increased workloads in the form of larger classes and even more ‘supervisors’ than ever. Such a mess. Such a bloody mess. And Michael Thurmond and his (mostly) Governor-appointed board continue to delude themselves that they have ‘fixed’ everything. That is the biggest lie of all. We have NEVER addressed the real issues that need addressed in order to completely turn the direction of our school district. It’s a money pot, plain and simple.

  18. Personally, we can’t blame the judge for making this decision. If Crawford Lewis goes free, and his signature was on the work orders that allowed Tony Pope to do the work, then Tony Pope should be free too. And that also means that Pat Pope Reid didn’t actually do anything illegal either – she was careful to make sure she got the boss, Crawford Lewis to sign off on the work order – and to present it to the board for their approval.

    So – now, I guess we wait for the Popes to sue the school district…..

  19. dsw2contributor says:

    Cynthia Becker is an incompetent judge.

    Back on December 9, 2013, Becker sentenced Reid to 15 years and Pope to 8 years. At that same hearing, Becker said Crawford Lewis had not testified truthfully:

    Now, Becker is ordering that Lewis and Pope should be released because Lewis had not testified truthfully.

    According to Becker’s own reasoning, Becker should have never sentenced Lewis and Pope to jail.

  20. dsw2contributor says:

    WABE just reported that the District Attorney is appealing Becker’s orders to release Reid and Pope.

  21. What is with that guy? Has anyone EVER heard of a DA fighting a judge on a release? This is wacky!

  22. Cynicism Among DeKalb Residents Remains High Following Ellis Trial

    We were already batting zero… or close to it. Is there nowhere in DeKalb that isn’t a mess?

    We particularly liked this quote >>

    Craig Jones, a local attorney, summed it up this way.

    “I think politicians will be politicians and that they don’t need to go to jail for it. The remedy is you vote the bums out and then bring in another bunch of crooks.”

  23. Things are moving fast >>>

    Judge orders new trials for 2 in school construction racketeering

    DeKalb County Judge Cynthia Becker ordered new trials for two people convicted of racketeering involving the county’s school system because they were found guilty based on the testimony of former school Superintendent Crawford Lewis, whom she found to have been untruthful.

    Becker’s order on Monday was in response to a Court of Appeals decision Friday that said she had to honor the agreement prosecutors had with Lewis that he would be sentenced to probation if he testified truthfully. Otherwise, the appellate court said, it would jeopardize the convictions of Pat Reid, who was over the schools district’s construction programs, and her former husband, architect Tony Pope.

  24. momfromhe11 says:

    So, will Crawford be re-tried as well?

    @bettyandveronica1 – remember, Robert James is the guy who threw aside the Grand Jury’s investigation of DCSS; “The School Board can police itself”. I been watchin’ him for a LONG time.

  25. howdy1942 says:

    This is just absolutely beyond insane! Why don’t we just close the Dekalb County Courthouse, fire all the judges, and terminate the District Attorney and save our money. The Dekalb County judicial system has become the theater of the absurd. And all of this craziness is costing taxpayers dearly. Think about all of the roads that could be fixed, all the teachers that could be hired, all the classrooms that could be reduced in size, all of the classrooms that could be reduced in size. and all of the efforts that we could initiate to attract businesses to Dekalb County if we did not have to fund this insanity. .

    Robert James just simply needs to go. He bungled the Crawford Lewis thing very badly – he should have simply tried the case. Either Crawford Lewis was guilty or he was not. It seems to me like there was a very strong paper trail left by the Popes that did not need any support from Lewis. And it seems to me there existed a lot of evidence tying the activities of Lewis to the Popes. Perhaps we just can’t find any group of 12 jurors in Dekalb County competent enough to look at the facts of a case and render a verdict. If that is the situation, then God help Dekalb County.

    For one, I’m tired of reading about incompetence and corruption in Dekalb County. It has gone way past embarrassment and now is just downright crazy. As you say, no one could have dreamed up this nonsense. Dekalb County residents have watched their school system being led into a deep, dark hole and almost losing our accreditation. We have watched our school board become so incompetent and dysfunctional that it was necessary for the Governor to remove them. We have watched the Eugene Walker saga play out in the courts. We have watched the Ellis case for over three years, waiting for a trial that was delayed time and again, and then when it did find its way into the courtroom, it ended in a hung jury. We now have two other commissioners being pursued by the U.S. Attorney. And on and on.

    I’m beyond ready for my beloved community of Tucker to become a city. And I fully support Lakeside and Briarcliff doing the same. Let’s unite our efforts, even if that means becoming the City of North Dekalb. That would be far better than what we have now. :Let’s separate from the madness that has become Dekalb County.

  26. It’s starting to look like a good old showdown between the judge and the DA… We’re betting the judge has a trump card.

  27. concernedmom30329 says:

    Actually, the supreme court came down pretty hard on Becker. I am surprised that she just didn’t let it go — leave Lewis alone (with his previously agreed to plea agreement) and move on. Do you think she thinks the Popes are honest because Lewis didn’t own up to his role?

    But apparently she wants his behind in a frying pan — but that is going to be hard to do if the DA won’t cooperate. So now she is trying to force the DA’s hand by retrying all three.

  28. From the AJC >>

    The Georgia Court of Appeals has overruled a judge’s decision to lock up former DeKalb County schools Superintendent Crawford Lewis, after his testimony helped send two people to prison.

    DeKalb Superior Court Judge Cynthia Becker may have breached an agreement between Lewis and DeKalb District Attorney Robert James when she sentenced Lewis to a year in jail instead of probation, Judge William Ray wrote for a unanimous three-judge panel.

    Basically, the appeals court is saying that if you don’t say you believe Lewis’s testimony (which is what denying his agreement infers), then you are basically saying that the Popes’ convictions are in jeopardy, as they were convicted partially on Lewis’ testimony. It’s like finding out that any other kind of evidence was not as it was presented in court. This always leads to retrials. New evidence, changed evidence (or testimony, which is considered evidence) — or compromised evidence.

    Posted: 1:16 p.m. Friday, Oct. 24, 2014
    Appeals court overrules sentencing of former DeKalb superintendent
    by Ty Tagami

  29. James needs to resign. We need to see a white candidate who is not part of the Dekalb Friends and Family plan run for DA. Someone who won’t be afraid to go after the black elite, the black NAACP, the Church of the Perve Pastor, aka someone who is not in bed with anyone and will clean up things.

  30. I am a transplant from the North and have lived here for 15 years. i thought that my hometown had a lot of corrupt politicians, but what has gone on there is nothing compared to DeKalb County.
    If I did not have close family here, I would sell my house and return to the land of snow. It would beat being snowed at every turn by the politicians here.
    I have always considered myself a smart person, but I have never been smart enough to figure out how people can lie, cheat, and steal and get away with it! I guarantee if any of us ordinary folks had done what these people did, we would never again see daylight.
    At least I can look myself in the mirror every day. I hope I am in line behind these guys on Judgement Day so I can hear what God has to say to them. Sizzle, sizzle.

  31. DecaturMax says:

    Another comment, we don’t need a “white candidate”. We do need a DA that is not friends and family that does not need the AJC to embarrass him into occasional action. A racist response discredits the author and makes this blog seem like a bunch of racists and wackos. You should be banned from this blog if your posts promote a racist agenda.

  32. I am not a raciest, John Evans is a Raciest, Burrell Ellis is a Raciest, Kelvin Wallis is a Raciest, Gene Walker, etc…. They have all made big time raciest comments, that they only want to higher black employees or contractors.

    What I am trying to point out is James is too afraid of alienating all of the black community. He sure didn’t mind going after the poor Jewish Dunwoody widow while she was in shiva. Try to make out that she was having an affair with her boss, dancing with him,.

    Now, in the black community it is perfectly acceptable for married women to be going out to the club several nights a week. It’s also acceptable for black male bosses like Crawford Lewis to take his employee Girlfriend Audra on taxpayer paid trips, over promote her. Isn’t that what Pat Pope had her Black Box that he didn’t want his wife to know.

  33. Judge’s conduct questioned in DeKalb schools appeal

    Prosecutors in a DeKalb County schools corruption case criticized the conduct of a judge and asked the Georgia Court of Appeals to keep two convicts imprisoned, according to court filings released Friday.

    DeKalb prosecutors raised questions about Judge Cynthia Becker’s actions, saying she gave advance notice to the defendants — without also informing the district attorney’s office — just before attempting to reverse their convictions.

    The Georgia Court of Appeals will have to decide how to handle the case of former DeKalb schools Chief Operating Officer Pat Reid, who is serving a 15-year sentence, and her architect ex-husband, Tony Pope, who is serving an eight-year sentence. A jury convicted them in November 2013 of manipulating school construction projects for personal gain.

    Court filings by Reid’s and Pope’s attorneys argue that Becker was within her authority to order new trials for them.

    Becker sought to overturn the convictions of Reid and Pope on Oct. 27 because she didn’t find the testimony of former DeKalb schools Superintendent Crawford Lewis to be truthful.

    Lewis had reached a plea deal with prosecutors to testify against Reid and Pope in exchange for a sentence of 12 months on probation. Instead, Becker decided to sentence Lewis to 12 months in jail.

    The Court of Appeals overturned Lewis jail sentence Oct. 23, and Becker then reversed the convictions of Reid and Pope.

    DeKalb prosecutors made an emergency appeal to halt Becker’s action, and the Court of Appeals agreed to do so last week.

    Prosecutors wrote in their latest legal filing they had reported Becker’s conduct “to the appropriate agency,” without saying what agency that was. The Georgia Judicial Qualifications Commission oversees judges’ conduct.

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