Does this bring back some fond thoughts about Keith Dixon and Duluth’s Red plan? Speaking of red, look at your mayoral race.

Byrd-Bennett to plead guilty to corruption charges
Ex-CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett has been indicted on federal corruption charges that she intends to plead guilty to, according her attorney.
An ABC7 I-Team Investigation

CHICAGO (WLS) — Ex-CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett has been indicted on federal corruption charges that she intends to plead guilty to, according her attorney.

Read the full indictment here

From $23 million in no-bid contracts to a consulting firm where Byrd-Bennett used to work, prosecutors say she and her relatives received hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes and kickbacks while schools and students in the city suffered through tough times.

“They provided meals, plane tickets, basketball tickets, baseball tickets and other benefits to Byrd-Bennett,” U.S. Attorney Zachary Fardon said during a news conference Thursday.

During a news conference Thursday afternoon, U.S. prosecutors and federal law enforcement described another Chicago-style scheme to rip off the taxpayers. Byrd-Bennett was not seen, but her lawyer confirms she’ll plead guilty.

“She and her codefendants worked to hide and conceal their graft, she misled other officials about the contracts and she repeatedly hid and concealed her financial interest in those contracts from the Chicago Board of Education and others,” Fardon said.

This multi-count fraud, bribery and conspiracy indictment charges Byrd-Bennett and the two owners of SUPES Academy, the principal consulting firm where Byrd-Bennett previously worked: executives Thomas Vranas and Gary Solomon.

“While acknowledging certain errors of judgement that he as well as others made in the contract process, and while he regrets his own errors, Mr. Solomon is disappointed in the breadth of the government’s charges,” said Shelly Kulwin, Soloman’s attorney.

ABC7’s Chuck Goudie: “Mr. Fardon, considering Barbara Byrd-Bennett was hired by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and considering one of the other defendants in this case was an advisor to Mayor Emanuel’s transition team, is this more than just a case of educational corruption, is it a case of political clout as well?

Fardon: “I’m not here to characterize those kinds of distinctions. I mean, it is, this is an important public corruption case and this office and the FBI have a longstanding history of ferreting out corruption where it exists and bringing appropriate charges when the evidence warrants those charges.”

SUPES Academy worked out of an unmarked building in Evanston and even though they still have contracts with other school districts, they no longer have offices there. No one answered the door at the Glenview home of co-owner Vranas and he hasn’t released any statement. This case hasn’t been assigned to a judge yet and there is no court date but that is expected soon.

“I am saddened and disappointed to learn about the criminal activity that led to today’s indictment of Barbara Byrd-Bennett. Our students, parents, teachers and principals deserve better. Together, we have made significant educational strides at CPS with rising graduation rates, test scores and attendance and our commitment to building on that progress remains as strong as ever,” Emanuel said in a statement.

“The circumstances surrounding the indictment of the former CEO are unfortunate and mark a sad day for the leadership of our district. While we wish Mrs. Byrd-Bennett well in her legal battles, the Chicago Teachers Union remains fully and unequivocally committed to securing a fair contract for our members and ensuring their ability to properly serve the public school students and families in the city of Chicago,” said Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis in a statement Thursday.

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