Former Chicago Public Schools chief indicted in bribery scheme – Chicago Tribune

8 Oct

Former Chicago Public Schools Chief Barbara Byrd-Bennett was indicted Thursday on charges she steered a no-bid $20.5 million contract to a education consulting firm where she once worked in return for promises of a job for herself and more than a combined $250,000 for two of her relatives.Also criminally charged in the 43-page indictment were Gary Solomon and Thomas Vranas, co-owners of the SUPES Academy, as well as the business itself and a subsidiary, Synesi Associates LLC.The long-awaited indictment comes six months after CPS revealed in mid-April that it had been served federal grand jury subpoenas seeking an array of documents related to the SUPES contract. Soon after, Byrd-Bennett took a paid leave of absence and then resigned in May.The indictment charged that Byrd-Bennett was promised a job at SUPES once she stepped down as the public schools CEO, according to the indictment”When this stint at CPS is done and you are ready to…retire, we have your spot waiting for you,” Solomon wrote in an email in April 2012, according to the indictment. “Hopefully with even more work and more (opportunity).”The indictment also alleged that Solomon and Vranas offered to deposit funds in financial accounts for two undisclosed relatives of Byrd-Bennett’s in what they called a “signing bonus” for her help on obtaining the contract.In an email to Solomon in December 2012, Byrd-Bennett asked that the amount of money deposited in each account be equal.PDF: Read the Barbara Byrd-Bennett indictmentPDF: Read the Barbara Byrd-Bennett indictment”I would like the flexibility to use funds for whatever reason as needed for them,” the indictment quoted her as writing.Solomon and Vranas then deposited $127,000 in each account, which was 10 percent of the gross proceeds of the original contract, the indictment alleged.The indictment also alleged that Solomon offered to arrange employment for friends of Byrd-Bennett. She also was given tickets to sporting events and meals, according to the indictment. Byrd-Bennett also expected to receive reimbursement from the companies for costs associated with a holiday party she hosted for CPS personnel, according to the charges.”Graft and corruption in our city’s public school system tears at the fabric of a vital resource for the children of Chicago,” U.S. Attorney Zachary Fardon said in a statement. “School officials and city vendors who abuse the public trust will be held accountable.”U Fardon and other law enforcement officials scheduled a 2 p.m. news conference to discuss the case at the Dirksen U.S. Courthouse.CPS chief Barbara Byrd-Bennett resigns amid federal criminal investigationCPS chief Barbara Byrd-Bennett resigns amid federal criminal investigationByrd-Bennett, 66, of Solon, Ohio, was charged with 15 counts of mail fraud and five counts of wire fraud. Solomon, 47, of Wilmette, was charged with 15 counts of mail fraud, five counts of wire fraud, two counts of bribery, and one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States. Vranas, 34, of Glenview, is charged with 15 counts of mail fraud, four counts of wire fraud, two counts of bribery, and one count of conspiracy to defraud the U.S.Byrd-Bennett’s attorney, Michael Scudder, could not immediately be reached for comment.

Source: Former Chicago Public Schools chief indicted in bribery scheme – Chicago Tribune

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: