Judge will let Lewis appeal refused plea deal

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DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. - A DeKalb County judge said she will allow former school superintendent Crawford Lewis to appeal her decision to reject his plea agreement.

Superior Court Judge Cynthia Becker  rejected the plea deal Lewis cut with prosecutors to serve just one year on probation in exchange for pleading guilty to obstruction in a racketeering case against the district's former chief operating officer and her ex-husband.

Last week, his attorney filed an emergency motion urging the judge to reconsider, demanding she recuse herself if she says no, and left the door open for Lewis to withdraw his guilty plea.

"This has been very difficult on my family and I and we're just waiting for it to end," Lewis said. "This has been almost four years now, waiting for this process to end."

"We think the court previously assured Doctor Lewis and allowed the district attorney to assure Doctor Lewis that the court had decided and agreed to impose the sentence. We are just aking her to do that and now we are going to ask the Court of Appeals to order her to do that," attorney Mike Brown said.

Becker said her decision to reject the plea deal remains in place.

Lewis was released on bond Friday evening. He had been jailed for a week when Becker sentenced his co-defendants.

Ex-DeKalb County Schools COO Patricia Reid, her ex-husband, Tony Pope, and ex-superintendent Crawford Lewis were convicted of redirecting more than $1.4 million in contracts to Pope's architectural firm while Lewis was superintendent, investigators have said.

Reid was sentenced to 15 years, Pope was sentenced to eight years and Lewis was sentenced to a year on a misdemeanor obstruction charge.

"This was on his watch. He stood by and then hindered, interfered and tried to stop the completion of a rightful, lawful investigation," said Judge Cynthia Becker. She called the scheme a "remarkably stupid decision" by very intelligent people.

Channel 2 Action News has two reporters in the courtroom and will have complete team coverage on Channel 2 Action News starting at 4.


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