Updated at 10:30 p.m. Wednesday
A DeKalb grand jury just indicted former Superintendent Crawford Lewis over irregularities in the state’s third-largest school system’s massive construction program. Indictments were also handed down on Pat Reid, who oversaw construction for the county until she fell from grace from alleged conflicts of interest and sweetheart deals to companies with which her then-husband had ties.
While Lewis did not have a strong vision for DeKalb’s changing school landscape, I did not expect a six-count indictment. A 33-year veteran of the DeKalb district, Lewis has yet to have his day in court, but I am stunned to see him indicted for racketeering (RICO) charges, theft by a government employee and bribery.
After reading the indictments, it seems to me that Lewis is alleged to have risked his career and his reputation for fairly modest gains, including Masters tickets and free hotel rooms.
Lewis was indicted on racketeering and other charges, school board Chairman Tom Bowen told the AJC. Former schools chief operating officer Patricia Reid, also known as Pat Pope, was also indicted, along with Reid’s secretary and Reid’s former husband Tony Pope, Bowen said.
District Attorney Gwen Keyes Fleming announced the indictments at 4:30 p.m.
Lewis faces six counts: four racketeering (RICO) charges , theft by a government employee and bribery.
Patricia Reid faces seven counts: four racketeering charges, theft by a government employee, bribery, false public document
Tony Pope and secretary Cointa Moody each face four RICO counts.
Lewis did not immediately respond to a voicemail left at his home.
Tony Pope’s attorney Calvin Leipold also could not be reached for comment at his law office.
Pat Reid did not immediately return a message left on her cell phone Wednesday afternoon.
Here are the charges:
- Four counts of violating the racketeer influenced and corruption act against Lewis, Reid, Pope and Moody.
- One count of theft by a government employee against Lewis and Reid.
- One count of bribery against Lewis and Reid.
- One count of falsifying public documents against Reid.
Lewis, 56, faces a maximum of 105 years in prison. Reid, also 52, faces up to 115 years in prison, investigators said.
Lewis did not return a message left at his home. His attorney denied the accusations.
“We are disappointed that the district attorney has brought these charges. They are wrong,” attorney Mike Brown told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Dr. Lewis has not committed any crimes. And we are going to fight really, really hard to prove that.”
According to investigators, the scheme had begun in 2006 and involved the three school officials concealing information from the school board, altering documents and giving work to Pope’s architectural firm.
“All of the parties used their positions and the resources of school system to facilitate theft, fraud and obstruction, whether for personal gain or for the benefit of others,” Fleming said. “The money received by Tony Pope was then funneled to Pat Pope.”
Lewis, who was terminated last month, hired Reid as chief operating officer in October 2005 to run the school district’s multi-million-dollar school construction program. At the time, Reid and Pope were still married
When she was hired, the couple was told he could complete one on-going school construction contract but could not work on any additional school projects, Fleming said.
But Lewis and Reid ignored that stipulation, the indictment alleges. The two, along with secretary Moody, 48, conspired to get Pope contracts. This was accomplished by issuing illegal change orders, altering construction projects and leaking information to Pope, all behind the school board’s back, Fleming said.