Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Heery/Mitchell Backstory


I'm going to create a thread that only discusses and links items about the Pat Pope, DCSS, Heery/Mitchell construction case. The trial is scheduled to begin in March, so there should be plenty to report in the coming months. We will provide links to stories as they become available in this post. Stay tuned!

This story was first brought to our attention just about one year ago, when Dr. Lewis suddenly decided to ask the DeKalb District Attorney to investigate the office of Pat Pope (COO and head of construction for DeKalb schools). Basically, one day seemingly out of the blue last December, the DeKalb County DA stormed Pope’s office and confiscated her computers along with other work items. Dr. Lewis, who asked for the investigation, said he would reveal results in one week. Months later, we were told that the DA was very busy and the results would not be available until May.

This small story was mentioned two months later in the Community Briefs in the Metro Atlanta Journal Constitution on Saturday, Feb. 21, 2009.

The results finally of the allegations of irregularities with DeKalb County School’s construction contracts, in Pat Pope’s office, have finally been forwarded, to the district attorney’s office. The school system forwarded this review to the district attorney’s office and requested that “a few things” to be looked into, to make sure a criminal investigation was not necessary. The school system would not cite specifics because the investigation was still open and ongoing.

A month later, the AJC reported the following,

Probe into school construction contracts continues

By KRISTINA TORRES
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Tuesday, March 24, 2009

It may be at least May before we learn the results of an internal review into allegations of irregularities with DeKalb County school construction contracts, according to a spokeswoman with the district attorney’s office.

The school system forwarded the review to the D.A., asking that a few things be looked into and whether a criminal investigation was warranted.

An investigator in the district attorney’s office is juggling the schools review along with several other cases, said D.A. spokeswoman Jada Hudspeth, and it may take until May to complete them all.

Hudspeth declined to give specifics about the schools review. It involves the office of Patricia Pope, the school system’s chief operating officer. In December, school system police officers and information systems employees examined records from Pope’s office.


Then all was fairly quiet, until one day in October, when Atlanta Unfiltered published an update on the situation. This was the first time that the public heard the "little investigation" was actually "complex and enormous". We created a discussion thread at the time called "The Pat Pope Debacle".

DA: DeKalb school construction probe ‘complex & enormous’
Atlanta Unfiltered
October 5, 2009
In March, the DA’s office said the investigation might not be completed for a couple months. ...Seven months later … “The case is complex and enormous in scope which is resulting in an extended investigation. We will share our findings when we complete the investigation,” Keyes-Fleming said Friday in a e-mailed statement in response to Atlanta Unfiltered’s questions.

October 14th, Ella reported that the GBI will now assist the DA with the investigation.

Then, on October 22, Kim reported (from a highly reliable source) that Pope had been "relieved of her duties". Everyone assumed that meant fired, but we later discovered that it only meant they were going to hire a team of consultants to replace her while she served out her contract in a barren office at another location.

On November 3, during the school board meeting, Fox 5 News reported on the construction management change. Of course, this was not discussed at the board meeting at all.

Recently, on November 16, Atlanta Unfiltered reported,
DeKalb construction probe complicates multimillion-dollar suit on cost overruns

DeKalb County schools’ multimillion-dollar damage suit over construction cost overruns may be undermined by a criminal probe of school contracts.
The school district has been locked in a court struggle nearing epic proportions since it suspended its construction management firm, Heery/Mitchell, in 2006. What began with the contractor’s claim for roughly $500,000 for unpaid invoices has escalated to the point that DeKalb, in a counterclaim, seeks damages of up to $125 million for mismanagement. The file for the court case is more than five feet thick.


This week, The Champion published a story about Heery/Mitchell requesting copies of the seized documents.

Construction firm wants access to seized school district documents
Written By: Jonathan Cribbs
11/27/09

A years-long lawsuit between the DeKalb County School System and a construction firm became more complicated this month after the company demanded access to documents seized by investigators last month in a separate probe.

Heery/Mitchell, a management firm that formerly worked for DeKalb schools, believes it was removed from the district’s SPLOST II and SPLOST III construction programs in 2006 so the district’s chief operations officer, Pat Pope, could take over the projects. Pope’s office has been the subject of a county investigation into contracting irregularities, and investigators seized documents from a district building in Tucker where she works on Oct. 13. The office of her husband, Anthony Pope, an architect who has designed several county schools, was also searched.

The school system booted Heery/Mitchell, citing cost overruns at several projects, including McNair and Henderson Mill elementary schools, Arabia Mountain and Columbia high schools and the Mountain Industrial Center. When Heery/Mitchell sued, looking for owed payments, the school system filed counterclaims, seeking tens of millions of dollars in damages.

In court documents filed earlier this month, Heery/Mitchell attorneys said they need to see the documents investigators seized because they contain evidence.


==========================================
Stay tuned and please add information in the comments as it becomes available.

31 comments:

Anonymous said...

And to think this whole mess between C Lew and Pat Pope started over her not backing him up for his shady car purchase, where his $18,000 school system vehicle lost $12,000 of its book value in ONLY 18 months.

But hey, the superintendent wanted a car for his son. How could the BOE object to that?

Anonymous said...

The sad thing to me is that the school system has spent millions of the taxpayers' money running up large attorney fees when they could have settled the $500, 000 owned. Apparently, the attorneys are making a killing on this, but the taxpayers are losing millions.

The school system will probable lose its case due to the evidence and then we will also be paying somone else's attorney fees also.

The investigation is dragging on because of the other law suit. The last thing the school systems needs is those records in the hands of Heery/Mitchell's attorneys.

Cerebration said...

Yep - and not only have they spent $14 million on attorneys to date according to news reports (with months to go before the trial) - they also spent $3.6 million to Nielsen-Wurster/Marsh to generate a 54-volume report consisting of thousands of pages and estimating the school system's total damages suffered to be between $84 and $125+ million.

This will be a very complicated trial.

Cerebration said...

Why, there's already an update!

From Atlanta Unfiltered -

DeKalb schools may pay $15 million to manage construction program

DeKalb school officials want to pay Parsons Corp. and another firm $14.6 million to manage construction through 2012. The school board Monday may pony up the 2010 installment -- $6.1 million. Parsons took control of the program in October when chief operating officer Pat Pope was reassigned as an investigation of construction contracts heated up. But the outsourcing would have cost the same regardless of Pope's status, a school spokesman said today: "Their dollar figure would not have changed."

Follow the article link above for the full story.

Anonymous said...

Comments to comments:
Who says "this whole mess" started with the car re-purchase?
$125 million charge is so ludicrous it can't be considered a serious effort to get it back. This is a game.
Why is "file control" important in any public corruption case?

Anonymous said...

One of the main issues (as I understand it) with Heery's oversight was the excessive number of change orders and the dollars they cost. These change orders were very lucrative to contractors, subs, etc.

Pat Pope put an end to them and those companies have been much less happy (and wealthy). She wasn't nearly as loved as Stan Pritchett.

Now, she is gone for 6 weeks and there is a change order on the agenda. And not an inexpensive one. It may be something that was left out inadvertently or not. (It is for emergency generators at the new county offices that are needed in case of, well, an emergency. The total cost is over 500,000. I really, really hope that this isn't a sign of what is to come.

I think the board needs to question each change order very carefully and make sure that they are really necessary.

No Duh said...

(It is for emergency generators at the new county offices that are needed in case of, well, an emergency. The total cost is over 500,000

So, you're saying our construction experts agreed to a plan for new offices and didn't plan ahead for emergency generators? And, they are just now thinking of this -- even after a gym has been built? (separate $$ I know, but still...)

Our BOE needs to say absolutely not to this "new" expenditure.

Our BOE needs to halt this insane management of our tax dollars. NO ONE builds/plans the way DCSS does -- which is: 1)Pay, 2)build, 3)plan, 4)think, 5)re-pay.

If you want emergency generators in the admin offices, pull out your candles and wait your turn in the SPLOST line -- which is in the back!

Anonymous said...

https://eboard.eboardsolutions.com/Meetings/ViewMeeting.aspx?MID=10525&S=4054

Anonymous said...

"Pat Pope put an end to them and those companies have been much less happy (and wealthy). She wasn't nearly as loved as Stan Pritchett."

Deeper:
--George Heery, tho not Heery/Mitchell owner, has had no love of "disEstablishment" administations.


http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/gyrobase/PrintFriendly?oid=3008

Anonymous said...

--George Heery, tho not Heery/Mitchell owner, has had no love of "disEstablishment" administations.

http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/gyrobase/PrintFriendly?oid=3008

Anonymous said...

I cannot believe that we are going to just let them approve a $15 million budget to a firm that DID not, repeat, DID not publicly bid the work? If you are looking for contract irregularities, what do you call this? This is more than what Heery Mitchell was charging and more than twice the amount Pat Pope had allocated in her budget. I am SHOCKED that nobody is alarmed by this action.

justiceindekalb@mpta.us said...

Knowledge is Power. Truth is Forever!

Patricia Ann Reid Pope DID NOT Cease the Change Order Summary requests.

The number and amounts of the Change Order Requests went sky high under her reign. Albeit, to her "top 5" Construction Cronies. (so, yes, maybe the other companies did get a little peeved that they weren't amongst her Top 5)!

Patricia Ann Reid Pope is not nearly as loved??? (as Stan Pritchet)?? You are hurting me here, Anonymous! Wow!

Factually, to be loved is the expression of an emotion. There is absolutely no room for emotion when it comes to business. Thus, speaking from a strictly business perspective, Patricia Ann Reid Pope was/is about the business of enrichening her and her "Cronies" golden wallets through the vehicle of Construction/SPLOST monies! PERIOD.

Patricia Ann Reid Pope came on board with questionable credentials - and as a matter of a fact, she did not even have an official job application on file with the DCSS until AFTER it was brought up in court during the Heery/Mitchell case..further, her job application does not have a date on it!

Patricia Ann Reid Pope was hand picked by Crawford Lewis through the same employment agency that Mr. Lewis used when he hired Darren Ware (remember Mr. Ware was in charge of HR but was a convicted felon and also falsified information on his application).

Truth lives forever. The Truth is that Patricia Ann Reid Pope cleaned house when she stepped her pretty little feet in the Sam Moss Building. She immediately FIRED Heery/Mitchell (giving them until 3pm that day to vacate the premises. Patricia Ann Reid Pope brought her own team with her. This includes Amy Sue Mann, Maria A-Washington (Pat's BFF who previously worked for Pat's husband Vincent Pope and who only had a high school diploma and was using DCSS resources to take online classes)! Patricia Ann Reid Pope is about her business when it comes to her money. The problem lies in the fact that it has done a dis-sevice to the constituents of DeKalb County and has robbed from the poor, innocent, powerless, voiceless students!

Oh, this last little detail about our Beloved - Patricia Ann Reid Pope.....in an attempt to circumvent justice, inquiries, etc, they have her listed as Patricia REID under Salaries (not Patricia Pope)!

I have documents to substantiate every single claim that I make. And then sum (some :))

justiceindekalb@mpta.us

rasmi said...

Knowledge is Power!

Here is the link to the Heery Mitchell lawsuit against DCSS
(I personally went to the courthouse and meticulously went over darn near every document!)

Have a look see for yourself!

http://www.ojs.dekalbga.org/

Case: 07CV2532 (Open) HEERY INTERNATIONAL INC. VS DEKALB COUNTY SCHOOL
Filing Date: 02/20/2007 Type: Superior General Civil
Judge: CLARENCE F. SEELIGER Superior Court
Secondary: Contracts
Tertiary:

justiceindekalb@mpta.us said...

This is all public information regarding Patricia A. Pope & Vincent Pope. Check out the link below where it clearly shows Patricia Ann Reid Pope as the Chief Financial Officer of her husbands business...the very business that was contracted to Columbia High School. DCSS BOE and Crawford Lewis KNEW this prior to hiring Ms. Pope, and yet......check out the dates on this document....Man, were they getting paid, or WERE THEY GETTING PAID!!!!!

http://corp.sos.state.ga.us/imaging/14296206.pdf

Believe me when I say that this is only the TIP of the iceberg! Please feel free to pre-order my book at justiceindekalb@mpta.us

Dunwoody Mom said...

Believe me when I say that this is only the TIP of the iceberg! Please feel free to pre-order my book at justiceindekalb@mpta.us

Is there a charge for your book?

Anonymous said...

Sorry Justice--
Your SOS link doesn't work
AND
Sec State listing for Vincent Pope Architects shows Mr Pope as all officers.

Justice? You better do better than this.

Cerebration said...

It's there. I found it. Check the 2005 documents.

Patricia Pope is SEC and CFO - and the submission date is 4/15/2005

Same for 2007 - Pat Pope is CFO and SEC

But the 2008 goes back to Vincent Pope (March, 2008 - well into the investigation, which began in early 2007) Same for 2009.

Interestingly, then in October 22, 2009, Vincent Pope & Associates filed an amendment for a name change to Vincent Pope Architects, Inc.

http://corp.sos.state.ga.us/imaging/14296206.pdf

Anonymous said...

Good work Cerebration. The name change throws people off?

Thanks to Justice too.

Cerebration said...

Yes - great info Justice - thanks.

I find it astounding that Pat Pope was functioning as a SPLOST consultant while simultaneously serving as CFO and SEC of a major SPLOST vendor. Not only that - she was married to that vendor! And all the while, interviewing for the job as COO of the SPLOST program with DCSS. Are we to believe that Dr. Lewis had no clue about this? Did he not do his due diligence?

Look at the dates - she was Vincent Pope & Assoc CFO and SEC in August of 2005. But she was officially hired as COO by DCSS in October of 2005 (apparently as the misleading, Patricia Reid) - having already worked as a consultant to the system.

Come on! I am beyond disappointed. No wonder the DA had to get the GBI involved. Where oh where will this go next?

Anonymous said...

No--the DA got the GBI involved because they know all of the bigger players that would be linked. GBI knows how to conduct the investigation in a limited fashion--control the file is the key to protecting the powerful.

BTW--where did Pope work before her husband's business and what dates? When she was involved in Olympics?

Anonymous said...

The construction at Columbia High is still ongoing to this day. The original project dates back to when Pat Pope was hired by DCSS and her hubby was the architect for the school's addition/renovations. Columbia has been under some sort of renovation for at least the past 5 years. Is Pope also the designer for the new fine arts wing currently under construction? My guess would be yes. It appears that the Popes have been making $$$ off this school's improvements since 2005. There is not one tile from the floor to the ceiling that hasn't been touched in the building.

Anonymous said...

The Columbia High School renovations where part of a SPLSOT III CIP program that was reviewed and approved by the Board. The total project was to last four years. The construction was on target to be finished until the DA probe interrupted close out. The Fine Arts Building was actually part of the SPLOST III funds and the overall project cost is approximately $200,000 under the proposed budget.

Anonymous said...

In speaking with Mr. Pope last week, he indicated to me that the name change was to align with his Florida registered company. Now both offices fall under the name Vincent Pope Architects.

Anonymous said...

Pat Pope stop working for her husband when she took the job with DeKalb Schools. Corporate filings take place in April so her name would appear as an officer until 2006. The firm overlooked this during the re-filing in 2006 and finally corrected the document late 2007. If justiceindekalb@mpta.us inside information is truly accurate, it would most likely indicate that no funds where paid to Mr. Pope or Ms. Reid after her employment with DCSS.

Anonymous said...

If justiceindekalb@mpta.us inside information is truly accurate, it would most likely indicate that no funds where paid to Mr. Pope or Ms. Reid after her employment with DCSS.

Really, are you serious.....Do you think she wasn't getting paid while being married to Vincent A. Pope....what he makes...she makes,,,,let's not be shady with the business....they both were getting paid with DCSS funds now accounts payable and the others are scrambling frightened to the gills that the real truth will come out and there will be some indictments of the director of finance and a few more top officials...they are playing a wall street corporate high stakes game in a small place like Georgia.....It won't end well for a lot of people...especially the little ones who actually see the invoices and question why checks are being paid to Vincent A. Pope in 2009....ooh yeah this is deep...look for folks to start playing Let's Make a Deal

Cerebration said...

The AJC has printed an in-depth report on the situation. It will bring you up to speed on the subject.

Read it here -

DeKalb school official faces question of impropriety

Cerebration said...

I have also created a thread here at the blog dedicated to discussing the AJC article.

The AJC Brings Us a Clue!

Captain Drew said...

Just so there's no confusion, George Heery has not been affiliated Heery International for over 20 years. He left in the 1980s and founded his own firm.

Cerebration said...

Probably a smart move -- considering their problems here - and with Dallas TX as well -

http://dallascrooks.com/heery/heerywatch.html

Cerebration said...

Back to the subject of the construction lawsuit - you know - the one Dr Lewis has spent over 12 million dollars on so far? And it hasn't gone to trial? This - and then he wants all kinds of attention for his cuts to the schoolhouse budgets! Aaaaagh.

Anyway - I wanted to ensure that this entire article from Atlanta Unfiltered was included in this thread - the trial is set to start in March - so hopefully we will get some real info very soon.

atlanta mainstream
DeKalb construction probe complicates multimillion-dollar suit on cost overruns
November 16, 2009 --

DeKalb County schools’ multimillion-dollar damage suit over construction cost overruns may be undermined by a criminal probe of school contracts.

The school district has been locked in a court struggle nearing epic proportions since it suspended its construction management firm, Heery/Mitchell, in 2006. What began with the contractor’s claim for roughly $500,000 for unpaid invoices has escalated to the point that DeKalb, in a counterclaim, seeks damages of up to $125 million for mismanagement. The file for the court case is more than five feet thick.

Now, DeKalb prosecutors are investigating possible wrongdoing by school employees involving construction contracts after Heery/Mitchell was canned. Agents last month seized school records for six projects from the office of the new in-house construction manager, chief operating officer Pat Pope.

Cost overruns at five of those projects, Heery/Mitchell noted, are a part of DeKalb’s claim of mismanagement. These include: Columbia and Arabia Mountain high schools, McNair and Henderson Mill Elementary schools and the Mountain Industrial Center.

DeKalb claims Heery/Mitchell allowed millions of dollars in payments for construction change orders that it should have flagged as unnecessary; the construction manager says school officials were ultimately responsible.

Heery/Mitchell claims its dismissal was just a pretext to place the projects under a new construction manager. In court papers filed last week, its lawyers said ”it was terminated pretextually by the School District to facilitate fraudulent activity in the same projects Heery/Mitchell had been managing.”

“… a key component of Heery/Mitchell’s defense is that its termination as SPLOST II program manager was pretextual, in that the School District’s actions to remove Heery/Mitchell from involvement in the selection, deployment, and coordination of architects and contractors and to facilitate the ascension of a DCSD employee now under criminal investigation over her role in discharging Heery/Mitchell’s former duties …”

DeKalb County prosecutors served search warrants Oct. 13 at Pope’s office and at the home and business of her husband, Anthony Vincent Pope, an architect who has designed a number of DeKalb schools.

Attorneys for Heery/Mitchell are scheduled to question Pope on Wednesday about the investigation. This time, Heery/Mitchell wants to hear what Pope knows about the criminal investigation by DeKalb District Attorney Gwen Keyes-Fleming. The lawyers are also pressing for copies of records seized at Ms. Pope’s office.
DeKalb’s lawyers opposed the request to depose Pope, noting that Heery/Mitchell had questioned her three times previously. But DeKalb Superior Court Judge Clarence Seeliger ruled in July that a deposition focusing on the DA’s investigation was OK.

Last month, Pope was relieved of her duties overseeing DeKalb’s school construction program and moved to another school office five miles away to pursue unspecified projects. School board Chairman Thomas Bowen described the move as an appropriate precautionary step while the investigation is pending.

The Heery/Mitchell lawsuit is scheduled to go to trial in March 2010.

Cerebration said...

If you click on the link to Atlanta Unfiltered in my comment above, you can link to download some of the court filings. Jim Walls at Atlanta Unfiltered spends a lot of time, energy and money to bring these actual documents to us on the internet - for free!

When you visit Atlanta Unfiltered, please make a donation to help defray the costs. We want to ensure Jim's ability to access and copy all of these public documents for us to view.