Lewis appealing jail sentence in school scandal

12/20/2013, 6 a.m.
Former Superintendent Crawford Lewis was freed on bond after the corruption trial ended on Dec. 9.

Former DeKalb School Superintendent Crawford Lewis will appeal his 12-month jail sentence for obstruction before deciding whether he will withdraw his guilty plea to a misdemeanor.

Michael Brown, Lewis’ attorney, made the remark on Dec. 18 as Lewis appeared before DeKalb Superior Court Judge Cynthia Becker in a special hearing.

Becker, who sentenced Lewis to 12 months in jail on Dec. 9, said she will not change the sentence she gave him when she rejected his plea deal with the DeKalb District Attorney’s Office.

Lewis was led out of court in handcuffs after the corruption trial ended, but he was released four days later on a $5,000 bond.

Lewis had expected to be sentenced to 12 months probation in exchange for his testimony against former school district Chief Operating Officer Pat Reid and her ex-husband, architect Tony Pope, who were both convicted of racketeering and given 15- and eight-year prison sentences, respectively.

Lewis was initially charged with racketeering for allegedly helping Reid and Pope manipulate construction contracts to benefit Pope’s A. Vincent Pope & Associates. He was facing up to 65 years in prison when he struck the deal just days before the case went to trial. Becker said she had the discretion to change the sentence if she felt that Lewis did not hold up his end of the deal by testifying “truthfully.”

Lewis will ask the Georgia Court of Appeals to review Becker’s decision and then decide whether he wants to withdraw his plea and risk going on trial for the original felony charges.