DeKalb Co. Schools corruption trial underway - CBS46 News

DeKalb Co. Schools corruption trial underway

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Tony Pope                                                                                      Patricia Reid Pope Tony Pope Patricia Reid Pope

DeKalb County prosecutors are poised to prove to a jury that former DeKalb County Schools Chief Operating Officer Patricia Reid Pope and her ex-husband Tony Pope allegedly manipulated the system and stole money from the school district.

"The evidence will show the money they took that they were not authorized to take, to the tune of over $1 million, of taxpayer SPLOST money," prosecutor Kellie Hill told jurors.

Tony Pope's architecture firm had a contract with the district before former Superintendent Crawford Lewis hired Patricia Pope in 2005.

Prosecutors allege once Patricia Pope got the job, her husband was not supposed to get additional school contracts.

"The problem came when Tony Pope submitted his request for an increased fee. The increased fee included a portion of the money he had already been paid under the original contract," said Hill.

But during opening statements, Tony Pope's attorney, John Petrey, said that was an honest mistake.

"Did Tony Pope get too much money for that? Yes. Was it because of a mistake, error and understandable mathematical error? Yes. Is he a thief because of that? That is for you to decide," Petrey told jurors.

Prosecutors also said Patricia Pope manipulated the system to buy cars from the district for herself and Lewis.

Her attorney Tony Axam said he will prove that allegation is false.

"She doesn't own the car. She never took the car. There is no crime. We say they cannot prove it because she does not have the car. Did she attempt to buy the car? Yes," said Axam.

Both Tony and Patricia Pope plan to take the stand in their defense. Their trial is expected to last more than a month.

Lewis is expected to testify. It's part of a plea deal he made with prosecutors two weeks ago. He was spared the same felony charged by entering a guilty plea to a misdemeanor charge of obstruction.

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