Becker retired from the bench this year after the Judicial Qualifications Commission began investigating her. She also was indicted earlier this year on charges that she misled JQC investigators but those charges were dropped four days later.
Chief Justice Hugh Thompson wrote for the court that while Becker had accepted the terms of the plea bargain, she still had the authority to determine whether Lewis testified truthfully, a key ingredient in the deal. Thompson said the case had to go back to the DeKalb County judge assigned the case after Becker retired because she made no written finding that Lewis was not truthful; she only implied it.
“Should the trial court find after consideration of the record, the parties’ arguments, and the evidence that Lewis did not testify truthfully, Lewis will lose the benefit of the negotiated sentencing agreement and the court will be relieved of its duty to impose the promised probationary sentence,” the opinion said.
Lewis was charged with racketeering and facing the possibility of decades in prison when he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor, which carried a maximum punishment of 12 months in the county jail.
Pope and Reid were both convicted of racketeering two years ago. She was sentenced to 15 years in prison while Pope was sentenced to eight.
Earlier this year, however, they entered pleas to theft charges and were sentenced to five years in prison each.