The Chicago Public Schools (CPS) district wants to recover roughly $10 million from disgraced ex-schools chief Barbara Byrd-Bennett, who pleaded guilty in October to her role in a multimillion-dollar kickback scheme.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the $10 million covers triple the amount of Byrd-Bennett's compensation as CPS CEO and the 10 percent in kickbacks she was supposed to receive as part of a scheme to help SUPES Academy secure $23 million in no-bid contracts. The district also wants to be reimbursed for legal and other costs associated with the case.
Under state law, government entities can seek to recover three times the amount of funds paid to officials who turn out to be corrupt. CPS can try to collect three times the 10 percent in kickbacks promised to Byrd-Bennett, even though she never actually received them.
The district also wants to collect an unspecified amount of money from Gary Solomon and Thomas Vranas, co-owners of SUPES Academy who were indicted alongside Byrd-Bennett in the scheme.
CPS CEO Forrest Claypool talked with the Chicago Sun-Times about the district's attempt to recoup the funds.
"Nothing is more infuriating than to watch Barbara Byrd-Bennett admit that she stole money from our kids and taxpayers, especially during a time of financial problems at the district. That's money that came directly out of the education of our children," he told the newspaper.
"It's our responsibility to do everything possible to recover money rightfully meant to educate our children that, instead, went to line the pockets of a criminal," he added. "We are aggressively pursuing every dollar we're entltled to under the fraud statute and will be aggressively litigating to get every dollar."