Former DeKalb schools chief’s case argued before Ga. Supreme Court

The prosecution and defense were united in their arguments Tuesday before the Georgia Supreme Court that a trial judge did not have the authority to ignore part of a plea deal for former DeKalb County School Superintendent Crawford Lewis.

The justices heard the only remaining issue this morning in this long and complicated racketeering case; did retired Judge Cynthia Becker have the authority to give Lewis the maximum sentence of 12 months in jail instead of probation because she believed Lewis lied when he testified against two former co-defendants two years ago.

Lewis testified against his former chief operations officer, Pat Reid, and her ex-husband, Tony Pope, and the two were convicted two years ago of manipulating school district construction projects to benefit Pope and his architectural firm in November. When it came time to sentence Lewis, however, Becker said she did not believe he had testified truthfully so she gave him the maximum sentence, 12 months in jail.

Becker was charged last month with giving misleading answers to the Judicial Qualifications Commission when she was questioned about the Lewis sentencing but the criminal case against her was dismissed four days later. The investigation of her also was dropped after she promised to not seek another judicial post.