• Attorney: Former superintendent to be star prosecution witness

    By: Tom Regan


    DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. - Crawford Lewis, the ex-DeKalb schools superintendent who pleaded guilty Wednesday to a reduced charge in a school construction scandal, could provide damaging testimony against the remaining defendants, according to an attorney closely following the case.

    "The state intends to use him as a witness against the other two and maybe provide statements that he hasn't made before, maybe new evidence against the other defendants," said attorney Page Pate.

    Lewis, along with former school construction czar Pat Reid, and her ex-husband, architect Tony Pope, are charged in what prosecutors allege was a lucrative scheme to direct taxpayer-funded projects to Pope's business.

    Lewis had faced felony racketeering and theft by taking charges, but at the last minute was offered a plea bargain which reduced the charges to misdemeanor obstruction of justice.

    Pate told Channel 2's Tom Regan it is a sweet deal for the former superintendent.

    "You're looking at a sentence of straight probation. The most a judge could give him is 12 months in jail, versus five to 20, to 30 on the racketeering charge," Pate said.

    Pate, who has defended numerous public officials in court, said Lewis' credibility on the witness stand will likely be called into question by the attorney for the two defendants.

    "How credible can he be if he's gone from facing so many years in prison to getting a misdemeanor deal?" Pate said.

    The trial for the remaining defendants is scheduled to begin Oct. 28. A jury will be drawn from a pool of several hundred candidates.

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