published Monday, December 9th, 2013

DeKalb County, Ga., schools officials sentenced in contract scheme

DECATUR, Ga. — The former chief operating officer of the DeKalb County school district, her ex-husband and the district's ex-superintendent were sentenced for their involvement in a racketeering and theft scheme Monday.

Ex-DeKalb County Schools COO Patricia Reid, her ex-husband, Tony Pope, and ex-superintendent Crawford Lewis were convicted of redirecting more than $1.4 million in contracts to Pope's architectural firm while Lewis was superintendent, investigators have said.

Reid was sentenced to 15 years, Pope was sentenced to eight years and Lewis was sentenced to a year on a misdemeanor obstruction charge.

The judge presiding over the case declined a plea agreement Lewis made with prosecutors that would have given him a yearlong probation sentence.

"This was on his watch. He stood by and then hindered, interfered and tried to stop the completion of a rightful, lawful investigation," said Judge Cynthia Becker. She called the scheme a "remarkably stupid decision" by very intelligent people.

Some witnesses took the stand asking the judge to show leniency and said the scheme didn't hurt the school district or its students.

District Attorney Robert James called the judge's ruling "a big win for the students and families of our county."

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