Judge denies new trial for educator convicted in Atlanta Public School cheating scandal

A judge has denied a new trial for one of the educators convicted in the Atlanta Public School cheating scandal.

Sharon Williams was one of multiple individuals convicted of racketeering back in 2015.

Channel 2′s Richard Elliot covered the trial when it went through the Fulton County Courthouse, and he was back in court Friday to see if the judge would allow a new trial for Williams.

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The trial in 2015 lasted eight months, at the time it was the largest and most expensive criminal trial in Georgia’s history.

Friday, Williams asked Judge Jerry Baxter to toss her conviction and grant her a new trial.

The same judge as the original case, he said no.

“I deny your motion for a new trial,” Baxter said.

Now a senior Superior Court judge, Baxter needed no time to deny the former Atlanta Public Schools regional director’s request for a new trial, nearly nine years after reading her previous guilty verdict.


“Count one, conspiracy to violate the Racketeering Corrupt Influence Organization Act, we the jury find the defendant guilty,” Baxter read.

Channel 2 Action News was in the courtroom as the jury convicted Williams and 10 other co-defendants for engaging in a conspiracy to help students cheat on standardized tests in 2009.

The defendants were accused of doing so to make it look like APS had made huge strides in student education when it had not.

Prosecutors estimated the scheme had hurt thousands of Atlanta elementary school students.

Andrew Fleischman, Williams’ attorney, tried to convince Baxter that his client did not deserve her RICO conviction.

“Ms. Williams in this case, this was a while back your honor, I know,” Fleischman said. “That sort of a broad law used in that way, well, it’s just not American.”

But prosecutor Kevin Armstrong insisted to the court that she did deserve the conviction for what she did to students and to those she supervised while working for APS.

“Dr. Davis-Williams was actively engaging in the conspiracy and concealing it, absolutely,” Armstrong said.

Back in the court, Baxter denied Williams’ motion for a new trial. She was sentenced in 2015 to 10 years, three to serve.

Five other co-defendants are also asking for new trials.

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