Saturday, April 17, 2010

360 Saturday In-Depth: Work Given To Georgia's DeKalb School Official's Husband

An Atlanta newspaper and sources within the county school system have indicated to 360 Degrees that DeKalb County school official Pat Pope dismissed two architecture firms working on separate multimillion-dollar construction projects and altered the projects in a way that allowed her architect husband to work on them.

Documents obtained show one architectural firm completed about two-thirds of its work and the other finished about one-fourth.

The DeKalb County School System paid $660,000 to the architects for their work on the Ronald E. McNair Discovery Learning Center south of Decatur and the Mountain Industrial Center near Tucker, according to contracts and financial records.

Pope's estranged husband, Anthony "Tony" Pope, will earn at least $1.2 million for his work on the projects, the newspaper reported.

Pat Pope's attorney, Manny Arora, said in an e-mail that decisions she made benefited the citizens of DeKalb county. "The projects she has worked on have finished under budget and on time," he said.

The newspaper reported that the projects are two of eight under investigation by the DeKalb County District Attorney's Office. Investigators declined to discuss the case.

Pat Pope has been reassigned from her position as chief operating officer of the DeKalb County schools.

She terminated the Brown Design Group and Smallwood, Reynolds, Stewart, Stewart and Associates three months after she was hired in January 2006, according to information from the AJC.

The school district later restarted the two school projects but with changes that allowed the construction companies to hire their own architects. That gave Tony Pope the opportunity to work on both projects.

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