Former APS regional director 'not guilty' of influencing

Former APS regional director 'not guilty' of influencing

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ATLANTA -

The first trial in the Atlanta Public Schools cheating scandal has cleared a former educator.

A Fulton County jury decided former APS executive director Tamara Cotman did not influence a witness in the cheating investigation.

Cotman was accused of trying to intimidate educators into not cooperating with state investigators.

After the verdict was read, Cotman said she felt vindicated.

"I was just grateful that the jurors listened to all the evidence and were able to filter the truth from things that weren't true," Cotman said.

Cheating scandal co -defendants Sharon Davis Williams and Michael Pitts stood beside Cotman after the acquittal

Cotman still faces charges of racketeering and making false statements and writings.

Court observers believe Cotman's case was a test for the many APS trials to follow.

Some defense attorneys say the other cases are in trouble, but Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard disagrees.  

"This whole case involves cheating, and when we went back and talked with jurors, the jurors said to us if the case had only involved cheating, that they would have been able to make a decision two minutes," Howard said.

The larger case against former Superintendent Dr. Beverly Hall, Cotman and 32 other educators is scheduled for next spring.

Hall's attorney, Richard Dean, released a statement late Friday afternoon saying the jury listened to the evidence and got it right. Dean says the former superintendent expects the same result for her trial next spring.

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