Sunday, July 4, 2010

So, how is the civil case between DCSS and Heery Mitchell coming along?

We’ve been having a discussion on an unrelated thread about the civil case between DCSS and Heery Mitchell so I thought I’d try to do a little research and bring us up to date on what is known. This is very complicated now that Crawford Lewis, Patricia Reid (Pope), Vincent (Tony) Pope and Cointa Moody have been indicted on RICO charges.

A recent article in the Daily Report, a very expensive law rag, has cleared the air on some of the facts of these cases. I will simply bullet-point what I learned. I can’t reprint or offer a link, as this is a corporate magazine and available only by subscription. Lawyers who subscribe can read it in the June 17, 2010 issue. The article is entitled “School case has a civil side”.

Key points are below:
  • Heery Mitchell International and E.R. Mitchell Co. originally sued the DeKalb school district for $1.5 million for breach of contract.
  • The DeKalb county school system countersued for more than $100 million.
  • The countersuit accuses Heery/Mitchell, etc of civil racketeering violations, including submitting fraudulent invoices, running projects repeatedly over budget and mismanaging the school construction program.
  • In March, after superintendent of schools Crawford Lewis and COO, head of construction for DCSS, Pat Reid (FKA: Pope) were publicly accused of criminal activity regarding construction contracts, Heery/Mitchell added to their claim, accusing Lewis and Reid of dumping them as construction managers in order to steer business to favored vendors.
  • The criminal indictments have already delayed the lawsuit, which was supposed to go to trial in June.
  • The criminal charges also put our county government in conflicting positions – with school officials defending their contracts and bidding process in the HM civil suit, while county prosecutors build a case against former school system leaders claiming bribery and other charges.
  • King & Spalding is representing the school system in the civil case and claim that the criminal charges have nothing to do with their civil suit. They also say that Heery Mitchell is using the criminal lawsuit to deflect attention from their own poor job of managing $1 billion of construction.
  • Heery Mitchell’s attorney, Mark Grantham of DLA Piper stated that the criminal charges show that Heery Mitchell’s termination may have actually been due to the school administrator’s scheme to engage in criminal conduct.
  • The Heery International v DeKalb County School District case has 1,053 docket entries that include depositions sought or taken of Lewis, Reid, Pope and Moody. The sealed deposition of Reid, is 7 inches thick.
  • Included in the indictment is an attempt by Lewis to stall the criminal probe because he feared the criminal probe investigation might damage the school system's defense in the Heery/Mitchell suit.
  • The HM contract was terminated in February 2007.
  • "Heery was able to—and did—take advantage of its superior knowledge and experience in construction-related matters to mislead employees of the School District ... concerning the effectiveness of Heery/Mitchell's management of the program," wrote John W. Hinchey, another King & Spalding attorney on the school system's defense team.
  • Some of the projects Heery/Mitchell were accused of mismanaging are now part of the criminal case against Lewis, Reid, Pope and Moody. They include the McNair Cluster Elementary School, the Mountain Industrial Center and the Miller Grove projects.
  • The indictment and pleadings by Heery/Mitchell show that Reid's hiring coincided with an overhaul of vendors involved in the school system's construction program.
  • In 2006, Lewis asked the school board to vote to replace an auditor that had given Heery/Mitchell a glowing report the previous year, telling the board the move was "an emergency," according to the plaintiffs.
  • MGT of America in a May 2005 audit reported that "an overall on-time and within budget completion in the face of a nearly 20 percent funding shortfall is evidence of the professionalism and experience of the Heery/Mitchell Joint Venture."..."The [school system] is to be commended for hiring a competent agency representative," MGT concluded.
  • Lewis wanted Rubino & McGeehin of Bethesda, Md., to become the new auditor, and its 2006 report was highly critical of Heery/Mitchell, although it did not accuse the companies of fraud. (The state also issued a report on an audit available at this link.)
  • On April 19, 2006, according to Heery/Mitchell, Pat Reid informed the construction partners their contract had been suspended until further notice. She also ordered the contractors off school property by the end of the work day.
  • The following day, according to the indictment, C.D. Moody Construction Co. was awarded the $11.9 million contract for McNair Cluster Elementary. The company's owner, Charles David Moody, was a close family friend of Reid and Pope, according to the indictment.
  • C.D. Moody listed Vernell Barnes as the project's "architect of record.” But prosecutors say it was Vincent Pope (Reid’s then husband), not Barnes, who did most of the substitute architectural work. Pope tried to cover his involvement in the project in an email that is part of the evidence.
  • In all, Pope was paid $2.4 million for which he was not entitled, prosecutors allege. That includes $445,000 for work Pope never did for the Columbia project.
  • Reid, Lewis and Moody are also accused of theft and soliciting bribes in the form of tens of thousands of dollars in tickets to major sporting events.
  • Lewis' indictment also includes a count of obstruction of justice when he asked the assistant DA to “table” the criminal investigation out of fear that it would harm the civil case
The civil case Heery International v. DeKalb County School District, is No. 07CV2532 and is before DeKalb Superior Court Judge Clarence F. Seeliger.


Additional stories on the subject are available at these links:

DA: 'Bad faith' in schools case

K&S will remain on schools case: More on the story

Are we gearing up for a trial yet?


No Duh said...

Cere: Thank you so much for an excellent translation of what is going on with the HM lawsuit. You are indeed a most dedicated and committed citizen.

I was struck by: "Heery was able to—and did—take advantage of its superior knowledge and experience in construction-related matters to mislead employees of the School District ... concerning the effectiveness of Heery/Mitchell's management of the program," wrote school system attorney John W. Hinchey, another King & Spalding attorney on the school system's defense team."

Now, I don't know if that is true or not. But, if it is, it's DCSS' own fault. Former principal Stan Pritchett had no business being in charge of our SPLOST funding. Our BOE must STOP MAKING THIS SAME MISTAKE OVER AND OVER.

We need subject matter experts in our Central Office.

A fool and his money are soon separated. And in the case of DCSS: And separated, and separated and separated...

pscexb said...


I second the comment made by No Duh. I also believe that DCSS and other school districts are entering a new era in which functional experts will be hired in non instructional positions, i.e. Construction, HR, Finance, IT, etc. I say this because of the attention that citizens have given to hirings in these departments. Someone with an understanding of Education should be a key adviser in those departments, given the nature of the requirements.

I'd like to offer a thought for a question asked in the other thread on this topic,
Why wasn't adequate handicap access already provided for in the original Mountain Industrial Complex plans the BOE approved? Who the heck in public building doesn't approve handicap access in this day and age? Isn't that part of building code? That seems so basic to me.

In this, you must look at the timeline for the evolution of this project. The original plans were to move DECA, Jim Cherry Center and Open Campus to MIC (Item #11 from the CIP). It is fair to say that ADA compliance was addressed in the build out for this part of the facility. Since the 'official' decision to move the Administrative offices into came after the CIP was approved, it was easy to justify reallocating dollars from facilities that would be closed to this stie.

Take a look at this link:

You will notice Clarkston Center and Freeman A/B on this list. Since those facilities would be deactivated, those dollars were probably reallocated. In the case of the Clarkston Center, I believe that was for roof work. Freeman A/B probably included ADA compliance among things.

Before everyone comments that the funds should go to the school house, remember that FEDERAL law covers ADA compliance. As someone else indicated, Freeman A/B could have been under court order to make the facility more accessible. If the change order simply moved ADA from an administrative site to be closed to an administrative site to be opened, it should be a wash, unless additional funding was required.

Logically thinking, it should be cheaper to make a new building ADA compliant rather than attempting to retrofit an old one.

I believe there was a change order with respect to the move of the three schools to MIC also. It had to do with matching Gates money possibly expiring thus they had to accelerate the construction for DECA. This was discussed at a Board meeting hence why that project changed.

Cerebration said...

Thanks for the kudos, but I can't take credit for this info - it all came from the Daily Report article By Ben Smith. I just bulleted the relevant information I thought citizens were entitled to know. After all, it's our money - and our kids.

No Duh said...

Hey New Candidates!! Where can we find you? Websites? Facebook? We need resumes. References. Don't assume your close friends will be able to fully broadcast your credentials. Reach out to citizens who don't live in your district. My BOE member isn't up for reelections, but, impress me, and I'll hoof your district with flyers, maybe even give you a little $$.

Multiple candidates for same district -- thank you all for your willingness to step up to the daunting task of taking on an incumbent. But if we are to experience real change in this election, someone needs to be magnanimous and step down. It is just a fact of elections -- supported by statistics. Contact each other -- meet for lunch. Pool your resources. PLEASE!

I know you ponied up $540 to qualify. If you step down you will be viewed as a hero. It will be the best money you ever spent if you can help someone else beat these incompetent incumbents!

The reality is, it takes more than heart to win these elections. Consolidate, orchestrate, organize, communicate. WIN!

Ella Smith said...

I am out of town at my mom's 80th birthday party. I hope to have my website updated next week. I am sorry. I have just finished my last class for my specialist degree and getting ready for comps and I have not felt weel the last month.

Hopefully I will have everything up and running in a few days. My blog is up and running at I have had this up for sometime.

I am on facebook and myspace also but my family mostly communicates on facebook so this is my social network of choice.

Ella Smith said...

I also have had trouble spelling well and weel. It just has been a bad month. Well I have been impulsive my whole life and do not check thinks well before I post them also so I always make mistakes. I also am not and never will be a English Teacher.

Anonymous said...

The Daily Report did a bang up job on this summary! Impressive and depressing at the same time.

No Duh is right, any one should have been able to tell that Stan Pritchett was over his head in the construction program. However, that is why they hired Heery Mitchell to oversee it. All that said, one of the things that seem to go so wrong back then is that a principal might say "I am getting 15 more parking spaces, but I want 30" and between HM and Pritchett no one would say no, they would just make it happen.

Cerebration said...

Page 11 of the SPLOST 2 Forensic Review -

DCSS designated Dr. Stanley Pritchett as the Associate Superintendent of Business Affairs and Plant Services in 1996. In this capacity, Dr. Pritchett served as the DCSS representative in charge of both the SPLOST I and SPLOST II programs until October 2005, at which time he was replaced by Mrs. Patricia Pope. Dr. Pritchett was the DCSS interface with HM, and was also responsible for the recommendations to the Superintendent with respect to A/E selection and, in conjunction with HM, for the selection of contractors to perform the various school construction projects. Dr. Pritchett and HM were responsible for making recommendations to the Board relating to project selection and prioritization. HM has been the PM since January 1998.

Cerebration said...

Page 33

Selection of Individual to Run the SPLOST 11 Promam on behalf of DCSS - as mentioned above, DCSS selected Dr. Stanley Pritchett to head up the SPLOST II Program and to act as the interface with HM, the A/E firms, and other contractors and vendors dealing with DCSS on the Program. Dr. Pritchett had no background or experience with construction prior to his selection for this role. The County would likely have benefited from someone with Construction Management or Construction experience in such a critical role, as this experience is necessary for someone in the role assigned to Dr. Pritchett, especially considering that he had the
oversight responsibility HM PM contract.

Cerebration said...

Page 38

Selection and Avvroval of A/E Contracts - According to Board policy, the Superintendent is responsible for selecting architects, and he accepted recommendations from his staff as part of that process. For SPLOST 11, Dr. Stanley Pritchett was heavily involved in the recommendation and selection process for A/E contracts. Our review to date of DCSS files revealed no documentation of the process for selection and award. We understand from Dr. Pritchett that he could consult with others in his department, but there was no written policy
established within the Superintendent's office or the SPLOST organization for the evaluation
criteria and selection process for A/E firms.

Ella Smith said...

You do a great job Celeb.

Anonymous said...

Wayne tyler who had work in that field was left to be over the splost projects. Once Pat took over she did not renew his contract. He two was treated very badly by pope. I think he knew too much about the process and this is the reason she wanted him out the building. She wanted a staff of people who would not question anything that she was doing.

The bottom line is that pat had agenda and that was to make as much money for her and vincent and she almost got away with it.

Don't let conita fool anyone she knew what she was doing, pope hand picked up for that job. If you were on her (a) list you made a high salary and had the run of the building. But if you cross her you will be gone over night.

Lewis went along with everything she wanted and this is why his a--
should go to jail also. Pope knew he was stupid and she used that to get what she wanted. Lewis started talking against dr. brown from day one and played a big part of geting rid of him. Dr. brown is probably laughing at this whole mess. He saw the problems from day one and was on his way too clean the mess up but the friends and family would have to go.

Anonymous said...

@pscexb -

It would be interesting to check what construction Freeman A/B was scheduled for (listed at $3,248,087). Any "significant" construction would have have mandated ADA compliance. Were the ADA funds included in the above figure?

So, I question whether any monies were slated for Freeman A/B compliance, and, if they were, was it enough to do whatever MIC required, or did they have to put in more? Given how the MIC is laid out, I suspect compliance cost more.

Nancy Jester said...

No Duh at 11:34am:

You can visit my website at:
You can send me a message or sign-up to volunteer through the website. Additionally you can email me at . There is also a tab to donate to the campaign securely through Paypal. Unfortunately campaigns are not free; so your support is appreciated!

I am also on facebook at Nancy Jester and Nancy Jester for Dekalb School Board. Please friend me or "like" my fanpage to keep up with the campaign.

Also, feel free to call me at 678.360.1148.

Happy Independence Day!
--Nancy Jester

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 3:17 pm

Which is why the current "cabinet" should not be retained. From what you say Dr. Brown was undermined by the "leaders" from the Hallford era. They wanted one of their own, and within 2 years got one of their own - Dr. Lewis.

Considering that the summary of Ernst and Young's 2004 Compensation and Classification audit laid the groundwork for decreasing the salaries of 2,500 non-teaching personnel who the auditors concluded were overpaid by around $15,000,000 a year, it's understandable why the high level administrators would prefer Lewis. I would like to see what the audit said about the salaries of the highest level Central Office personnel when Lewis took over.

pscexb said...

@Anon 3:23,

I took a look at the detailed CIP. You can see this at the following link under the appendices:

I saw

HVAC Bldg A - $921,812
HVAC Bldg B - $2,265,025
ADA Bldg B - $61,250

It is a legitimate question to ask why $2,443,839 was reallocated given the budgeted amounts above.

Anonymous said...

The question is, do we still have this stuff still going on in the spending of dcss construction awards? Why is Gude Managmnet still around and why was Gude hired and fired in the last 2 weeks in clayton county>
Also has anyone looked into who is related to the car dealer of who dcss buys all there cars from? it is real interesting...

Anonymous said...

Board member cunningham has a brother that owns a car lot and pat's car had a sticker on it from him.

Anonymous said...

This is the reason why I pointedly voted NO for splost 3..Pritchett had his hand in the cookie jar..and then the fabulous PP came over to save the day....she lost my respect when she commented how surprised she was that one of the oldest buildings in the district had asbestos!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Cere: does the case outline how Pritchett was behind site selections for the SPLOSTS?
Does it list all the sites heavily pushed by Pritchett? If so, consider publishing the list.
It's enlightening to pull up aerial photography of the addresses where the schools were built. Before and after shots are the most interesting. Lots of trees in the before shots, hardly any in the after.
Timber!!!!! (Contracts).

Cerebration said...

As far as I know, Stan Pritchett is not mentioned in the case at all, except as the rep for the schools during SPLOST 2.

Anonymous said...

We must demand our BOE to fire the entire cabinet of Clew-less. If we don't we'll be mired in the muck of corruption for years. I sure would like to see the original audit that Clew-less hid from the public. Shouldn't the document be available through the FOIA? (Freedom of information act)

We must revisit the original audit and complete a new one so we can see how corrupt our former leadership was. Where are the resignations? Will they ever come? Why is the BOE so scared to fire them all?

This whole thing makes me so mad. The money we have spent, the last 5 years, on Alston and Bird,, King and Spalding and other law firms would have financed all the cuts the BOE were forced to make this year. That number is huge and it should go to the teachers and schools NOT the lawyers.

Anonymous said...

Securing documents through FOIA is not cheap. Any of your BOE members could ask Ms. Tyson for the 2004 Compensation and Classification audit (the original one done by Ernst and Young - not Dr. Lewis's and DCSS HR conclusions and recommendations). Has anyone emailed their BOE rep to secure this document that tax
payees paid for and make it public. It should be an attachment in the BOE website. Instead the BOE meeting where it was presented by Jim Landry, Ernst and Young consultant, is not even listed on the DCSS BOE website.

Anonymous said...

According to the Dekalb Free Press...pat Poe is currently in jail for fraud...shoddy reporting? or has a quiet deal been made?