A date has been set for the criminal trial of former DeKalb County Schools Superintendent Crawford Lewis, who is charged with violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, theft by taking by a government employee and bribery.
In 2010 a grand jury returned an indictment alleging Lewis, former schools construction chief Pat Reid and her ex-husband Tony Pope conspired to defraud the school district of approximately $2.4 million through illegal construction contracts.
DeKalb District Attorney spokesman Erik Burton said Lewis’ trial is scheduled to begin the second week of September. The DA’s office declined to comment further due to the pending trial.
Reid, formerly known as Pat Pope, allegedly used her role as the district’s construction chief to award contracts to then husband Tony Pope. According to officials and court documents, Lewis allegedly signed off on contracts and knowingly participated in the conspiracy.
Reid also fired Heery/Mitchell in 2006, which had overseen construction contracts for the district, citing overbilling and questionable work. Heery managed the school SPLOST account from 2002-06.
Heery has since sued the DeKalb County School District (DCSD) for $400,000, which it said the district still owes for work it had done. The school district countersued for $100 million, alleging fraud and claiming that the company mismanaged projects.
Heery denies those claims and contends the real reason the company was fired was because Reid wanted to award the contracts to people she knew and had connections with. Superior Court Judge Clarence Seeliger recently set a trial date of Feb. 4, 2013, for the civil case against the DeKalb County School Board.
According to court documents, since the beginning of the case with Heery/Mitchell, the school board has paid approximately $18 million to law firm King and Spalding, who is representing the board, and accrued an additional $19 million in legal fees.
The DCSD recently filed an emergency motion to seal documents made public by an updated criminal indictment of Lewis and Reid, which was denied by Judge Cynthia Becker.
DCSD claimed that part of the indictment included “privileged communications between DCSD and its attorneys.” However, the court ruled that several of the exhibits DCSD requested to be sealed were not “privileged communications as a matter of law,” and the district had waived the privilege on another set of documents because it was not asserted in a timely manner.
Officials have contended that for the civil case involving the school board and Heery/Mitchell to move forward, the pending criminal case involving Lewis and Reid must be resolved so both can be called as witnesses in the civil trial without incriminating themselves.
Heery International filed a motion to stay the civil case pending the outcome of the criminal trial, which was denied by Seeliger earlier in May.
The school board and construction firm have been ordered into mediation by Seeliger—once in 2009 and again in 2011—but the parties have been unable to reach a settlement agreement.
Previously in court Seeliger has said the civil case “would most likely have to go to trial.”
“We believe the facts in the civil case matter, and when presented to a jury, the jury will agree with us,” Heery International spokesman David Rubinger said.