A former DeKalb County School System construction chief has new representation in a high-profile racketeering case after her former attorney was slapped with a protective order for contacting grand jurors.
Pat Reid, the district’s former chief operations officer, hired well-known attorney B.J. Bernstein on June 23. Bernstein, a prominent criminal attorney and television law analyst, said she could not comment on anything beyond the fact she was hired and is preparing for Reid’s arraignment, which has not been scheduled.
“Everybody’s being given some time to look at the indictment,” she said. “Normally an indictment is a page or two pages long. Obviously, this is much longer.”
County Superior Court Judge Cynthia Becker slapped Reid’s former attorney, Manny Arora, with a temporary protective order last month barring him from contacting grand jury members. It’s unclear why he was contacting jurors. An employee of Arora’s left a phone message with a Champion Newspaper reporter saying he could not comment since he no longer represents Reid.
Reid was indicted in a racketeering scheme along with former district Superintendent Crawford Lewis; her ex-husband, architect Tony Pope; and her secretary, Cointa Moody. Reid’s last day at the school district was June 30.
The grand jury returned an indictment May 26 alleging Lewis, Reid and Pope conspired to defraud the school district of an estimated $2.4 million through illegal construction contracts. Reid, formerly known as Pat Pope, has been the subject of a widely publicized investigation into those contracts for nearly two years.
For months, law enforcement officials have asserted that she illegally used her role as the district’s construction chief to dole out lucrative contracts to Pope. Lewis has been fingered as the sign-off man who participated in the conspiracy in exchange for tickets to Atlanta Hawks playoff games and the Masters golf tournament and other perks.
Lewis, who was terminated by the school board two months ago after a 33-year career with the district, faces several charges: four racketeering counts, theft by a government employee, bribery and falsifying public documents.
Pope, an architect who worked for the school system, was charged with four counts of racketeering, and Moody was also charged with four counts or racketeering and theft by a government employee.