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Reid, Pope and Lewis get jail time in DeKalb Schools corruption case

Ken Watts | 12/9/2013, 3:38 p.m.
Former superintendent Crawford Lewis (left), former COO Pat Reid and architect Tony Pope at their sentencing hearing Dec. 9 in DeKalb Superior Court.

All three defendants in the DeKalb County Schools corruption case are going to jail.

DeKalb Superior Court Judge Cynthia Becker sentenced former chief operating officer Patricia Reid to 15 years in prison and her ex-husband Tony Pope to 8 years on Dec. 9.

A 12-month sentence is pending for former School Superintendent Crawford Lewis after the judge rejected his earlier plea deal with the DeKalb District Attorney.

Reid was found guilty of channeling $1.4 million of contracts to Pope while she was running the school district’s construction program.

In exchange for his guilty plea to misdemeanor obstruction, Lewis turned state’s evidence and testified against Reid and Pope but at the sentencing hearing this morning, Judge Becker said that Lewis deserves to be jailed. She told him that he could reconsider his plea in view of her decision to reject the presecutors’ recommended penalty.

Becker said that she would impose a final sentence after Lewis has had a chance to confer with his lawyers. In the meantime, sheriff’s deputies took Lewis into custody, leading him out of court in handcuffs.

When asked about the judge's rejection of the Lewis plea deal, District Attorney Robert James said professional rules don't allow him to comment.

"It's unclear as to whether or not defendant Crawford Lewis will be allowed to withdraw his guilty plea and as such I think it would be inappropriate based on the model rules for conduct of lawyers, especially prosecutors, for me to comment based on what may be a pending case," James said.

Reid and Pope were both found guilty on Nov. 20 of racketeering in the high-profile corruption trial that transfixed the county for three weeks.

Both were taken into custody that day and was brought to the sentencing hearing in ankle shackles.

Reid was also found guilty of theft by taking for having school district workers repair her county-issued Ford Explorer just before she bought it for one-third its value. The SUV was eventually returned after an investigation of the purchase began.

When Reid was hired as the school district’s COO in 2005, her then-husband’s company, A. Vincent Pope Construction, had a contract to renovate Columbia High School. During the trial, prosecutors allege that Reid funneled work to her husband by presenting new work at Columbia as an extension of what he was already contracted to do and then Pope allegedly overcharged the district.

Prosecutors also contend that Pope helped a contractor and another architect, both unindicted co-conspirators, adjust their proposals for the McNair renovations to win the contract. Pope later was the architect, working in the background, on renovations at the McNair Elementary School Cluster.

James said he is pleased with the sentencing.

"I believe the jury spoke very clearly and the judge sent a strong message that this type of behavior by public officials and people who are entrusted with public funds will not be tolerated," he said.