School executive charged with theft, official misconduct

January 14, 2010 3:24:45 PM PST
A Cook County school administrator faces corruption charges following a year-long investigation. Prosecutors Thursday accused Charles Flowers of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayer money and using it for personal items.

Flowers turned himself in to the Cook County Sheriff's Police in Maywood Thursday afternoon. The 51-year-old was elected as the regional school superintendent in 2007. After a year-long investigation, Flowers is charged with theft and official misconduct.

Months after law enforcement raided Charles Flowers' office and home, the 51-year-old is charged with stealing close to $400,000 in taxpayers money.

Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alverez says the blatant theft began shortly after he was elected as regional school superintendent.

"The theft came in the form of Flowers' use of taxpayer-funded credit cards for personal expenses and cash advances," said Alvarez.

Alverez says some of those cash advances allegedly went to Flowers' sister and girlfriend, who he placed on the public payroll.

"Flowers went as far to use public funds to pay for weekend trips to Mississippi," said Alvarez.

The regional school office handles teacher certification and conducts safety inspections at cook County Suburban schools. The office was already broke when Flowers allegedly began stealing money.

"You think you see it all, then something like this comes along and it shocks you," Alvarez said.

Flowers is scheduled to appear in bond court Friday.

The Cook County State's attorney has also filed a civil suit against flowers seeking full repayment of a $190,000 loan he received from Cook County for his office.

Legislation is pending in Springfield to eliminate the regional schools office.