Chicago police have reported that Barbara Byrd-Bennett, The former CEO of Chicago Public Schools, was charged in connection with allegedly steering a $20.5 million contract and other jobs, to her former employer.
The Chicago Sun Times reports:
Byrd-Bennett — Mayor Rahm Emanuel's handpicked choice — becomes CPS' first CEO to face criminal charges in connection with her job. Federal authorities have been investigating the contract — the largest no-bid CPS deal in recent memory — for more than a year.
Receiving the contract in 2013 to train principals was The SUPES Academy, owned by former Niles West High School dean Gary Solomon and his former student Thomas Vranas. It generated controversy at the time because SUPES was not known for training principals while many other, respected organizations did that very job. The deal continued to draw criticism as some educators questioned the quality of SUPES' training.
Solomon and Vranas were also charged, as were SUPES and another company they owned, Synesi Associates LLC.
The feds allege that Byrd-Bennett and Solomon set up a kickback scheme, detailed in emails, in which Byrd-Bennett would get money in exchange for steering CPS contracts to SUPES and Synesi.
Byrd-Bennett also had accounts set up for two unnamed relatives, dubbed a “college fund,” where kickbacks could be deposited, the feds allege. While the indictment does not name the relatives, a source familiar with the investigation said they are Byrd-Bennett's twin grandsons who live in Ohio.
The money would be disguised as “a signing bonus” when Byrd-Bennett left CPS and returned to SUPES and Synesi as an employee, the feds say.
In an email that Solomon sent to Byrd-Bennett, he allegedly wrote: “Like we have discussed, we have created accounts that, upon withdrawal, we will pay down the taxes and distribute. You can distribute to [Relative A and Relative B] ...read more