Former DeKalb school superintendent reindicted

Former DeKalb School Superintendent Crawford Lewis, his one-time chief financial officer and her ex-husband have been reindicted — for a second time — and now face fewer charges than when a criminal case was first brought more than three years ago.

The new indictment issued earlier this month charges Lewis, former Chief Operations Office Pat Reid and architect Tony Pope each with one count of racketeering. Lewis and Reid also are now each charged with three counts of theft by taking by a government employee; Pope is also named in one of those counts.

The three have denied all the accusations.

The central theme of the allegations against Lewis, Reid and Pope is that, beginning in 2008, they conspired to steer tens of millions of dollars in school construction projects to Pope’s firm, to businesses he was affiliated with and to Reid’s friends. Reid is accused of using her authority over school construction to manipulate scores on contract bids so her then-husband would win business. The indictment alleges that Lewis knew what was happening but did nothing to stop her.

The 37-page indictment contains fewer charges even though it describes essentially the same crimes outlined in the 132 pages of the May 2012 document.

When the case was reindicted last year, supposedly to enhance Lewis’ role, the three faced four counts of racketeering. Lewis and Reid also were charged with theft by taking by a government employee and bribery. Lewis and Reid were facing up to 110 years in prison if they were convicted of counts in the May 2012 indictment.

The crimes in the updated indictment could mean up to 50 years in prison if they are convicted and given the maximum punishment.

Pope also saw his risk reduced when the new indictment was returned July 18. He is now facing a maximum of 30 years in prison if convicted as opposed to 80 years for all the charges against him in the indictment returned last year.

“We just streamlined the indictment,” a spokesman for DeKalb District Attorney Robert James said when asked why the case was taken before a grand jury for a third time. “We stand ready, and we’ll be prepared for the Oct. 15 trial date.”

Tony Axam, Reid’s attorney, said his client is ready to go to trial.

“Pat Reid wants to go to trial as quickly as possible so she can get on with her life,” Axam said.

Attorneys defending Lewis and Pope either declined to comment or could not be reached Thursday.

The investigation began in 2008 when the District Attorney’s Office was looking into Lewis’ use of a school system charge card. The indictment alleges that, to deflect attention away from himself, Lewis told an investigator that the district attorney should look into Reid for hiring her husband and giving him contracts he was ineligible to receive.

Then the investigation ballooned into a complicated racketeering case that initially named Lewis, Reid, Pope and Reid’s secretary, Cointa Moody.

The first significant delay came three months after the indictment was returned when Superior Court Judge Cynthia Becker dismissed Lewis’ lawyer because his firm also represented the employer of a prosecution witness.

In November 2011, an appellate court ruled Lewis could keep the attorney. A trial date was then set for April 2012, but it was canceled.

In May 2012, a new indictment was returned, naming only Lewis, Reid and Pope. Moody was no longer accused and was expected to be a witnesses for the prosecution.

The trial was set for September 2012, but it, too, was delayed.

In January, Moody died of natural causes, and that same month the two prosecutors who built the case left the DeKalb District Attorney’s Office to become prosecutors in Cobb County. That required a new team to acquaint itself with the complicated case.

The trial is now set to begin in mid-October.