Shocker: Grand jury indicts Dekalb ex-Superintendent Crawford Lewis on six counts

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.

A DeKalb grand jury indicted former school Superintendent Crawford Lewis today

A DeKalb grand jury indicted former school Superintendent Crawford Lewis today on six counts

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.

According to the breaking news story now in the AJC:

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.

219 comments Add your comment

wow101

May 26th, 2010
4:41 pm

Why is Patricia Pope still with Dekalb County? Seems like she would have been placed on administrative leave without pay while the investigation took place.

M G

May 26th, 2010
4:41 pm

No shock here. Our principal read an e-mail from the Interim Supt on Monday before we left the school. We were reminded that we cannot talk to the media about anything without approval from the system’s PR dept and the systems attorneys.

beet

May 26th, 2010
4:42 pm

Shocker? Hardly. Anyone who has been paying attention to what has been happening in DeKalb has been expecting this for quite a while.

Proud Black Man

May 26th, 2010
4:42 pm

Where are the advocates for this fine man? They were quick to come out for “that” teacher.

Natasha

May 26th, 2010
4:43 pm

I am not surprised at all. Isn’t this the same county that just tried to lock up a teacher for nothing?

d

May 26th, 2010
4:46 pm

Maureen, I do love your sense of sarcasm. Now I wonder how Mr. Womack feels about his push to keep Lewis around earlier this year.

catlady

May 26th, 2010
4:51 pm

Hopefully these cases will taken care of quickly, and the taxpayers reimbursed for what was stolen from them. If the money is gone, let the three work on the roadsides clearing brush for a dollar an hour in their orange jumpsuits. No more high-test gas!

Wonder which school system’s CEO will be next?

Br Eyes

May 26th, 2010
4:54 pm

No surprise here, just when they thought they could get away with stealing from the tax payers. HA!!

Sweet Pea

May 26th, 2010
4:56 pm

Pat Pope with her stuck up tail deserves to get what she got. You don’t tear people down, you are suppose to build them up.

fred stoddard

May 26th, 2010
4:57 pm

Nice news story Maureen. Your opinion inserted in an otherwise NEWS STORY is most conforting.
Your chances of writing for the New York Times has no doubt increased. Typical so-called news
reporter…………..no wonder circulation of the AJC is in the toilet.

Heard It All Before

May 26th, 2010
4:59 pm

What’s so shocking? A grand jury of Premiere citizens found enough evidence to bring Lewis to trial. He’ll be tried by a jury of his Premiere peers, presided over by a Premiere judge. If convicted, he’ll be held over in the Premiere county jail. Just another day here in Premiere DeKalb, baby.

WhoCares???

May 26th, 2010
5:03 pm

Who gives a rip? This is Dekalb County so I am not at all surprised. Just another example of corrupt public ‘workers’.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by ODE GAE NEA, Maureen Downey. Maureen Downey said: Shocker: Grand jury indicts Dekalb ex-Superintendent Crawford Lewis http://bit.ly/bBj35s [...]

Voting Taxpayer

May 26th, 2010
5:05 pm

The DeKalb School System Board of Education voted in January to give Crawford Lewis a RAISE and a CONTRACT EXTENSION. Now, a mere five months later, this same Crawford Lewis is INDICTED.

SHAME on the DeKalb School Board for allowing this man to steal from our children.

SHAME on the DeKalb School Board for giving this man a raise when teachers were being given pay cuts.

SHAME on the DeKalb School Board for giving this man a contract extension when teachers and educators were being laid off.

SHAME on the DeKalb School Board !!!!!

Maureen Downey

May 26th, 2010
5:06 pm

@Fred, I am an opinion writer. They pay me to offer opinion. You are free to disagree with me, but that is my job. The news story on this issue is on the front page. Read it and you will see a difference in what news writers do and what I do.
Maureen

ed

May 26th, 2010
5:15 pm

I feel sorry for those of you posting messages of support – you do not know who you are dealing with. We have had to work with him on numerous occasions. He is a crook plain and simple. He needs to go to prison.

Understanding Atlanta

May 26th, 2010
5:15 pm

I think we are giving Crawford Lewis too much credit. I can’t see this 33 year old veteran really being involved in racketeering – takes too much forethought and planning. The real people behind this have to be Pat Pope and others that worked for Lewis at DCSS Central Office.

Lewis never gave me much confidence but it’s amazing what happens when the School Board finds a “YES” man to do what they tell him to (that’s how they keep their voters happy). I’m sure the truth will come out.

Off topic I know, but the DCSS BOE is a bunch of self-serving (words I will not use in public) that will do what the people that make the most noise (regardless of how much sense it makes – fiscal or academically) want them to. Many times it does nothing to better the quality of education. They are one of the top three reasons I have decided to leave DeKalb County for good, I don’t even want my tax dollars going to fund their foolishness!

Suffering Fools Madly

May 26th, 2010
5:19 pm

Proud Black guy – Crawford will have his day in court just like “that” treacher.

Stephan

May 26th, 2010
5:22 pm

The shocker is that no one has called the Dekalb grand jury racists?!

Ben

May 26th, 2010
5:35 pm

Good job Maureen, even though we don’t agree on guns, I think that “crawdaddy’s” house is about to fall in on him and Pat Pope. The only question that I have is how much did he pocket in kickbacks? With the kind of money involved I hope that he put away enough to cover his lawyer fees which are going to be high.

cobb mother

May 26th, 2010
5:40 pm

Just like with Bill Campbell and the City of Atlanta, Ricky Rowe, Friday night Poker games to funnel payoffs to the mayor to get work for the mayor’s favored Minority contractors. Something is wrong when all of a sudden you have to be black or “African American” to have a job first heading up the Construction of a major school district, then only Minority firms are given the work.

One must ask who the hell is Pat Pope or Pat Reid, where the hell did she come from to begin with. This is a very small Construction Management pool with very few qualified women at all. I will tell you that I am very familiar with who is who in this field and no one ever hear of this Pat Pope ( Reid) Character before Dekalb county. So she was nothing but a plant by the Crawford Lewis to feed contracts to the African American “Black” Contractors. But my question is how can the minority contractors now get all of the work. Why were contracts cancelled with major players.

This is 2010, we have reverse descrimination in Dekalb, Fulton and City of Atlanta. There is no need for minority set asides anymore. This is a prime example of how it is being misused. We are seeing the Black Good olde Boy/Gal system in Dekalb, just as we did in Clayton, and City of Atlanta under Campbell.

Thank God the business community brought in Michael Young to save Grady from the self dystruction. But we can watch the SCLC self dystruct in front of us.

former

May 26th, 2010
5:43 pm

Not a shocker at all. It’s about time these crooks got what they deserve. Now it’s time to clean the rest of the house . . . we need some more whistle blowers for all of the other corrupt goings-on at Premiere DeKalb. I hope voters remember this mess when it’s time to vote. We need a new BOE to take a long, hard look at underqualified, underexperienced managers and put a nepotism policy into place- just for starters!

Common Sense

May 26th, 2010
5:45 pm

@ Keith, shall I say Enron, Goldman Sachs, and the entire Wall Street fiasco and their derivatives game…

Please don’t put race into this problem. Leaders are subject to corruption. If they aren’t paranoid enough to avoid jail this IS what happens. .

I work in DCSS and C.L. didn’t do anything that previous supers didn’t do…he just got caught!

Pierre

May 26th, 2010
5:46 pm

I’m surprised Lewis was indicted. I thought it was more incompetence and carelessness on his part and that Pope/Reid was the villain here. Guess there was more to ole Craw than I thought. What a sad squalid tale. Congrats to the people at the DeKalb School Watch blog who have been calling attention to what has finally come to pass for a long, long time now, and shame on the self-seeking time servers in the head office and on the school board who have always lacked to courage to call the corrupt to account.

Dan

May 26th, 2010
5:46 pm

Stephan: Not yet my friend. Not yet. But you will see. Anybody who accuses a black person of anything is a racist. Look at O.J.

HStchr

May 26th, 2010
5:46 pm

As the details roll out, we’ll find Lewis wasn’t alone, and I suspect other heads will roll. This is what happens when there’s lots of money and lack of oversight. It’s easier to do in a large system, but happens everywhere. Lewis just got caught. I bet a lot of other superintendents in the state are wide-eyed and looking over their shoulders right about now. This is the good ‘ol boy system, regardless of race.

SallyB

May 26th, 2010
5:47 pm

UNDERSTANDING ATLANTA: .You are absolutely right. I was in the same DCSS the same 33 years as Lewis and he absolutely could not have been the BRAINS of this operation. He has neither the ability nor the drive . Don’t know who did the planning and scamming for this, but it definitely wasn’t Crawford Clueless [his nickname among colleagues]. Guess it will all come out when the “blame game” starts.

Shannon

May 26th, 2010
5:49 pm

I really think is is a shame that people have convicted and punished this man before he has had a fair trial. This is suppose to be the fair country..Everyone should just wait and see what the out come is before jumping to conclusions and even then not be so critical of the man he like all of us is human and we all make mistakes. We are suppose to help our brothers and sisters when they are down not kick them. I pray to GOD that he will come out of this alright even if he did do it. It is only money he can pay it back, life is the only think that can not be given back…

SallyB

May 26th, 2010
5:54 pm

Didn’t Crawford Clueless hire quite a large number of people during his reign…as his , let’s see, lieutenants ? Maybe some of those folks should be scrutinized.
From first to worst in a decade and a half..!!!! Well, maybe a little longer, but still, very disheartening.

Princess

May 26th, 2010
5:55 pm

I know it!!! Crawford Lewis and his crew is a joke to the school system..Pat Pope, what goes around, comes around and this is your day. Sister-n-law be careful!!!! To the Boardmembers except for Mr. walker you will all be replaced, SHAME ON YOU!!!

SallyB

May 26th, 2010
5:55 pm

Hello filter….got me again.

Welcome to our little World of Dekalb

May 26th, 2010
5:59 pm

Keith,

Your comment is not fair. In fact it is racist. Dekalb has been corrupt since Freeman or may be as long as Jim Cherry. This is when Dekalb was operated by whites. There was a whistle blower that reported mishandling of funds during 1994. Nothing has change. It is just Pat Pope /Reid was a scape goat. I think the DA needs to back as far as 1990.
Dekalb is just a corrupt county from the county government to the school system.

SallyB

May 26th, 2010
6:00 pm

Karma ! karma ! karma ! Or was it just sloppy, inept, bungling, gauchet, incapable, incompetent, and inefficient planning and execution of the plan?

SallyB

May 26th, 2010
6:00 pm

OOPS. That would be “gauche” without the t.

Chester

May 26th, 2010
6:00 pm

I really don’t have an opinion on the article, but it seemed like with the personal opinions being stated by the writer, it would have been better suited for the editorial page..

Maureen Downey

May 26th, 2010
6:03 pm

@chester, Do you mean the news article or the blog? The blog should be opinion; the news article – to which I both link in the blog and quote from in the blog — should not.
Maureen

DawgDad

May 26th, 2010
6:10 pm

I wonder how many teachers will get the pink slip to pay for all these legal bills? How much money has been misappropriated or misspent? How about a report, Maureen, on how much the crimes and cleanup have and will cost the citizens. Keep in mind citizens will pay for the prosecution under any circumstances, and this is the type of thing that can get ugly and expensive.

ChristieS.

May 26th, 2010
6:14 pm

Keith, that’s a disgusting post. Go away.

fred stoddard

May 26th, 2010
6:19 pm

Maureen, excuse me, but I thought front page MSN local news was that: NEWS.
Save your opinion for the editorials.

ga morrow

May 26th, 2010
6:20 pm

cobb mother

You talk about reverse discrimination? What about what Sonny Perdue and his good ole boy network? His road? The fact that he is leaving office more wealthy than before he became governor? What about the countless white politicians that rewards friends and/or never caught when they steal? Stop making this a race issue because it cheapens you to a racist. It seems to me that you came on here to vent your anger at African Americans “Blacks”. You even had to add the SCLC feud which has NOTHING to do with this. This is about Crawford Lewis who happens to be black and his indictments (which he deserves). Stay on topic and stop your race baiting!

Teacher Reader

May 26th, 2010
6:22 pm

Fred, The top part of the page is Maureen’s opinion. The lighter color print is a quote from the newspaper article. Maureen gets paid to write a blog for her opinion.

ga morrow

May 26th, 2010
6:22 pm

fred stoddard

Please stop it! This is a blog, which means Maureen gives her opinions. You need to click on the MSN local news to get straight news. It is apparent to me that you don’t know your way around AJC.com.

Lethimwhoiswithoutsin...

May 26th, 2010
6:30 pm

Keith, what makes you think white people aren’t corrupt? When I moved in this house I purchased from a “white” county administrator, the feds kept coming here looking for him for corruption charges. He was slick enough to steal from the county and was able to walk away without getting caught while he was in office. White people have been stealing all the time, they just know how to do it with discretion. Black people who get in such positions haven’t had enough experience, unlike their white counterparts, to steal with discretion.

Justice

May 26th, 2010
6:32 pm

The only way you’re going to stop cr*p like this is to pass laws that reguire a minimum of 40 years jail for any public official found guilty. That means local, state, or national (of course you know all of congress will vote for this).

Lethimwhoiswithoutsin...

May 26th, 2010
6:42 pm

Enter your comments here

THIS IS A FACT

May 26th, 2010
6:47 pm

In order to completely clean up DEKALB SCHOOL SYSTEM, Ronald Ramsey, must be next to go and more to follow. Some will began leaving shortly. This is just the tip of the iceburg. Crawford Lewis did not perpertuate this fraud alone without the aid of Financing, Human Resources, Legal Department, and many others.He simply did not have the SMARTS!!!

THIS IS A FACT

May 26th, 2010
6:49 pm

GOOD JOB DA Flemings. Please know you are far from finished

Maureen Downey

May 26th, 2010
6:53 pm

@Fred, Now, I am really confused with the MSN reference. Many blogs on AJC are essentially opinion columns. I am a longtime editorial/opinion writer so that is what I do here. But most of AJC.com is news. However, the slice of site devoted to blogs is not.
Maureen

Dr. John Trotter

May 26th, 2010
6:57 pm

Not a “shocker,” Maureen. This indictment was expected. I’ve been expecting this before Spring expired. (I had been clued in by someone in the know that indictments would probably be forthcoming in the Spring.) It’s really sad. Crawford is a fairly nice guy, but he was not equipped for the job. But, some particular school board members (I won’t go into details) wanted him as the superintendent. He would do their bidding, so to speak. Dr. Jim Williams should have been named the superintendent to follow Johnny Brown. Dr. Williams was the Deputy at the time. When Crawford was nabbed as the next super, then Dr. Williams quietly and without any fanfare retired.

Dr. Williams is a man of impeccable integrity and served as Deputy under Dr. Halford and Dr. Brown (and perhaps under Dr. Freeman). The school board would be wise if they could talk Dr. Williams out of retirement to come back as a transitional leader. Tyson is too close to Crawford. Dr. Williams will actually restore some integrity to the school system. I wish Crawford well. I told a close colleague of mine that I cannot rejoice even in my political enemies’ misfortune. This is truly sad. Now I know why Crawford Lewis undoubtedly instructed that joke-of-a-school-board-attorney, Josie Alexander, to write me a laughable letter informing me that I was “banned” from DeKalb County Schools. Do I look “banned”? I think that our insisting on going forward with a grievance hearing for a teacher who was about to testify concerning systematic cheating at Clarkston High School was too much for Crawford, especially during the same time period when the young child took his own life apparently because of the unchecked bullying. Shortly after the Crawford Lewis Administration summarily and illegally shut down the grievance hearing, the cheating scandal broke out in the media, but not before MACE was publicly picketing about systematic cheating in the DeKalb County School System. (c) MACE, May 26, 2010.

Burroughston Broch

May 26th, 2010
7:12 pm

For those who remember, it hasn’t been too many years since the Fulton County Schools were in a similar mind.

And where were our elected school board members during all this? Why, asleep at the switch as usual, except for arranging school system jobs for family and friends, and approving the hiring over 2300 unneeded additional staff and administrators. It’s high time that DeKalb voters turn the lot out on their ears.