Ex-superintendent faces less time
10/18/2013, 6:02 a.m.
After more than three years in legal limbo, former DeKalb School Superintendent Crawford Lewis has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of obstructing and hindering a law enforcement officer and turned state witness against his former co-defendants.
Lewis, who was facing racketeering, theft by taking and other charges, pleaded guilty Oct. 16 in exchange for his testimony against his former Chief Operating Officer Patricia Reid and her former husband, Anthony Pope.
Standing before DeKalb Superior Court Judge Cynthia Becker, Lewis was asked:
“How do you plead to the charge, guilty or not guilty?”
“Guilty,” he replied in a low voice.
“And are you in fact guilty?” asked the prosecutor.
“Yes,” he replied.
To which the prosecutor said: “The court will sentence you accordingly, subject to your truthful testimony doing the trial of your co-defendant Patricia Reid and Anthony Pope.”
Jury selection for the trial of Reid and Pope is set to begin on Oct. 28. It is expected to take several weeks.
With his plea and testimony, Lewis now faces about 12 months in jail instead of years.
Lewis; Reid and Pope; and Reid’s secretary, Cointa Moody, were first indicted in May 2010 on multiple counts of running a criminal enterprise in connection with their management of DeKalb Schools’ multimillion-dollar construction program.
That indictment was replaced in May 2012 by a superseding indictment charging Lewis with four counts of racketeering, one count of theft by taking by a government employee, and one count of bribery.
It included new evidence of emails about Hawks basketball tickets and letters about Falcons football tickets and alleged that Lewis used his public office for illegal private gain and to conceal waste, fraud, abuse and corruption. It also included an invoice and check to cover Pope’s legal fees.
In that indictment were allegations that more than $80 million in contracts was obtained through fraud and that Pope made more than $2 million on the deals.
At that time, charges were dropped against Moody, who was expected to testify as a witness.
Lewis’ plea deal on Wednesday said that Lewis “knowingly and willfully” obstructed District Attorney Investigator W. Clay Nix in the discharge of his duties by asking Reid – who was suspected of illegal activities concerning the Columbia High School and McNair Cluster elementary school construction projects – to gather documents related to her and Pope’s illegal construction activities and ask the District Attorney’s Office to “table” its criminal investigation of Reid contrary to state law.