- After an eventful Monday hearing that saw last-minute plea deals offered and four hours of testimony from character witnesses, sentencing in the Atlanta Public Schools cheating trial concluded Tuesday morning.
- In all, only two of the 10 educators being sentenced, Donald Bullock and Pam Cleveland, took the plea deals, accepting responsibility for the crimes they were convicted of. Each will serve the conditions of the deals offered them, listed below.
- Following heated exchanges with defense attorneys, Baxter sentenced Sharon Davis Williams, Tamara Cotman, and Michael Pitts to 20 years to serve seven. Dana Evans, Diane Buckner-Webb, and Theresa Copeland received five years to serve one, while Angela Williamson and Tabeeka Jordan got five years to serve two. Additionally, sentences included varying amounts of probation, community service (the maximum sentence including 2,000 hours), and fines (the maximum of which were $25,000).
During Monday's hearing, Judge Jerry Baxter had encouraged the educators to admit responsibility and accept the last-minute deals and avoid prison time, which he indicated the sentences he had in mind would include.
To recap, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported the proposed plea deals offered were as follows:
- Michael Pitts, Tamara Cotman, and Sharon Davis Williams would spend weekends in jail for a year, pay a $10,000 fine, complete five years of probation and community service, waive any appeal, and issue an apology
- Dana Evans, Angela Williamson, Donald Bullock, and Tabeeka Jordan would spend weekends in jail for six months, pay a $5,000 fine, complete five years of probation and community service, waive any appeal, and issue an apology
- Pam Cleveland, Diane Buckner-Webb, and Theresa Copeland would serve a year of home confinement with limited freedom during the day, pay a $1,000 fine, complete five years of probation and community service, waive any appeal, and issue an apology
While the racketeering charges alone carried up to 20 years of prison time, however, Baxter tipped his hand on Monday when he reportedly told one of the defense attorneys, "I'm not giving these folks 20 years." The convictions also included a handful of theft and false statements charges. Baxter, however, chided the defendants for still not admitting responsibility for the crimes they were convicted of.
An 11th convicted educator, Shani Robinson, was pregnant when the guilty verdict was reached two weeks ago. Her sentencing is set for August. It is currently unknown if she will be offered a deal similar to those above. Those not taking the deals can still appeal their sentences.