Convicts in DeKalb schools case remain imprisoned

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

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

DeKalb County Superior Court Judge Cynthia Becker had ordered Monday that Pope and Reid be freed. The judge wrote in her order that a key witness against the divorced couple, former DeKalb Superintendent Crawford Lewis, may have been untruthful when he testified during their trial in November. A jury found the two guilty of manipulating school construction contracts for personal gain.

Reid was sentenced to 15 years, and Pope was sentenced eight years. Becker also sentenced Lewis to a year behind bars, despite a plea agreement reached with prosecutors that he would serve probation.

Last week, the appeals court overruled Becker’s decision to jail Lewis, and Becker responded Monday by ordering that Pope and Reid be released and receive new trials.

The appeals court said 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 wasn’t necessarily a setback for them. Both have motions for new trials pending before Becker.

“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 represents Reid, said, “At some point, we’ll win.”

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