The Latest: Education firms charged in kickback scheme

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Posted: Oct 08, 2015 2:57 PM
The Latest: Education firms charged in kickback scheme

CHICAGO (AP) — The latest on the indictment of former Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett, following a federal investigation into a $20 million no-bid contract (all times local):

1:50 p.m.

Two education training companies and their owners are charged in a federal indictment that alleges Chicago Public Schools' former CEO took kickbacks while steering them no-bid contracts.

An indictment released Thursday names SUPES Academy and Synesi Associates LLC, along with their owners, Gary Soloman and Thomas Vranas. Both men are charged with bribery and conspiracy to defraud, along with mail and wire fraud.

The indictment accuses former CPS leader Barbara Byrd-Bennett in an alleged bribery and kickback scheme to steer $20 million worth of no-bid contracts to the companies.

Soloman's attorney released a statement saying Soloman has cooperated in the investigation and stands behind his companies' training and services. The statement says Solomon has acknowledged "certain errors" in judgment, but that he's disappointed he was charged.

Vranas and his attorney didn't immediately return calls for comment.

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1 p.m.

Prosecutors allege that the former leader of Chicago Public Schools steered no-bid contracts to a training agency where she once worked in exchange for kickbacks and bribes.

Barbara Byrd-Bennett was indicted Thursday on 15 counts of mail fraud and five counts of wire fraud. If convicted, she could face a maximum 20-year prison sentence on each count.

The indictment alleges that the 66-year-old steered no-bid contracts to the SUPES Academy, which trains principals.

Byrd-Bennett was chosen by Mayor Rahm Emanuel in 2012 to lead CPS. She resigned about four months ago, amid an investigation into a $20 million no-bid contract.

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12:25 p.m.

The former CEO of Chicago Public Schools has been indicted on corruption charges following a federal investigation into a $20 million no-bid contract.

Barbara Byrd-Bennett was indicted Thursday, about four months after she resigned amid an investigation into the contract between the district and SUPES Academy, a training academy where she once worked as a consultant.

She took a paid leave of absence in April, following reports that federal investigators were looking into the contract.

The academy turned over records to investigators, who also asked for documents from Byrd-Bennett and other employees. CPS suspended its contract with SUPES and confirmed it had been subpoenaed.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel chose Byrd-Bennett, a longtime educator, to lead the district in 2012.

CPS is the nation's third largest school district with about 400,000 students.