DeKalb County Judge Cynthia Becker has set a start date of April 15, 2013, for the racketeering trial against former DeKalb County School Superintendent Crawford Lewis.
Lewis, his former construction chief Patricia Reid and Reid’s ex-husband Tony Pope are being charged along with him for conspiring to defraud the DeKalb County School District (DCSD) of approximately $2.4 million through illegal contracts.
Reid allegedly used her role as the district’s construction chief to award contracts to then husband Pope. According to officials and court documents, Lewis signed off on contracts and knowingly participated in the conspiracy.
Lewis and Reid also are charged with taking tickets from contractors to professional and college sporting events, shows and balls.
Becker said she is reserving three weeks for the case, which was supposed to start at the end of this year but was pushed back.
Earlier in November, the DeKalb County school board voted to waive a policy setting the indemnity cap for Lewis’ legal representation at $100,000.
According to district officials, the board’s decision to waive the cap also relates to a civil case involving construction firm Heery International, which is closely related to the criminal case. Lewis is expected to be one of the main witnesses to testify in the civil trial, on which the DeKalb County School District has already spent nearly $30 million in legal fees to date.
Since both of the cases involve issues regarding decisions made when Lewis was superintendent, school spokesman Jeff Dickerson said the district has a legal obligation to pay for Lewis’ representation.
“They’re lifting that cap but we don’t know what those fees are going to look like,” Dickerson said.
The board also voted that any more costs to be incurred by Lewis’ legal firm Goodman, McGuffey, Lindsay and Johnson, would come before the board and be approved on a monthly basis. Additionally, the board has the right to impose further caps if it deems it necessary.
Board chairman Eugene Walker said that raising the cap was in the best interest of the district.