One Small Step For Justice

While we anxiously await the trials and indictments churned out by the metro Atlanta conveyor belt of corruption, let us savor for a moment the justice that has been recently served.
Earlier this month Crawford Lewis, physical education teacher turned Superintendent, plead guilty to obstruction in exchange for ratting out the other educ”Rats”. Pat Reid and Tony Pope saw themselves at the business end of a jury this week. The jury found Pat Reid, the former DeKalb County Schools chief operating officer, guilty of racketeering and theft. Also convicted of racketeering Wednesday was Tony Pope, an architect who was Reid’s husband when the pair were conspiring. Sentencing for all three will be in two to four weeks. Reid faces as much as 30 years in prison. Pope could get as much as 20 years. Lewis’ maximum punishment is only 12 months, but he will forever be the poster boy for why unqualified people should not play Superintendent.
As the conveyor belt turns, yesterday Lisa Terry became the first, in a line of over 30 indicted employees, in the Atlanta Public Schools test-cheating scandal to plead guilty. In light of Tamara Cotman’s recent acquittal, dealing a blow to future trials, perhaps the prosecution borrowed DeKalb’s playbook.
What domino is going to fall next? It’s hard to say, but here are some names floating around.
DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis was indicted back in June by a grand jury on 15 counts that accused him of trying to pressure county contractors for campaign contributions, among other allegations. Ellis’ indictment claims that all the dirty work was done “at the offices of R.L. Brown”. R.L. Brown and Associates is an architectural firm that contracts to school districts. Robert L. Brown and Brad Bryant were appointed liaisons to the Governor for the appointment of the new DeKalb board members. Prior to selecting the new DeKalb Board, R.L. Brown was a board member at Grady where his architectural firm received millions of dollars in contracts for a major expansion of Grady Hospital.

Jabari Simama, who served as chief of staff under Ellis, is accused in the grand jury report of manipulating the committees that award contracts. The report recommends a criminal investigation into possible bid-rigging. Dr. Simama was selected as President of Georgia Piedmont Technical College by a search committee that included Gene Walker. Jabari Simama was inaugrated in 2013 at the same time Michael Thurmond’s name was listed on an Advisory Board to the Georgia Piedmont Technical College’s Foundation. At the April ’13 Tucker Parent Council meeting, Thurmond alluded to building a working relationship between DeKalb Schools and Dr. Simama.
Given the uptick in the white collar prison population around here, I’m sure everybody is watching their Ps and Q’s waiting for the dust to settle. In the meantime, the FactChecker will be watching.

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