Appeals court stops release of 2 convicts in DeKalb corruption case

The Georgia Court of Appeals is halting the release of two people whose DeKalb corruption convictions had been overturned by their trial judge.

The appeals court Wednesday granted prosecutors’ emergency request to delay the reversal of the convictions of Tony Pope and Pat Reid, who have been imprisoned for 10 months since a jury found them guilty.

DeKalb County Superior Court Judge Cynthia Becker had ordered Monday that Pope and Reid be freed in response to a previous appeals court ruling last week.

Becker wrote in her order that former DeKalb Superintendent Crawford Lewis may have been untruthful when he testified against Pope and Reid during their trial.

Pope and Reid had been convicted of manipulating school construction contracts for personal gain.

Reid was sentenced to 15 years, and Pope was sentenced to eight years.

The Georgia Court of Appeals said in its unsigned order Wednesday that Becker didn’t have the authority to take action because the appeals court still had jurisdiction.

Attorneys for Pope and Reid said the Court of Appeals order was not necessarily a set back for them. Both have motions for new trials pending before Becker that are not part of this issue.

“It’s just everything is on hold. Our clients are caught up in a technicality right now,” said J. Tom Morgan, one of Pope’s lawyers.

Tony Axam, who represented Reid, said, “At some point we’ll win.”

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.