6 educators accused of stealing money from Chicago, suburban schools

August 22, 2012 (CHICAGO)

The charges are part of an ongoing investigation called Operation Cookie Jar, which targets public and government employees accused of corruption.

"It's clear to me that citizens are fed up and rightfully so. They are sick and tired of watching their tax dollars being mismanaged," Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez said.

Former Superintendent of District 147 Alex Boyd, of Richton Park, and Board Secretary Mable Chapman are accused of misappropriating hundreds of thousands of dollars for personal use.

Louis James, of Chicago, former sports administration manager for Chicago Public Schools, is accused of forging invoices to pay for personal items.

"That included champagne, flowers, chocolates, condoms and a king size mattress," Alvarez said.

Sonia Lopez, a former teaching assistant for CPS at Thurgood Marshall Middle School, is charged with issuing fraudulent checks and pocketing thousands of dollars.

"This is clear that it sends a message that not only will people be disciplined, they will go to jail. That is the message that needs to get out," James Sullivan, Board of Education Inspector General of the City of Chicago, said.

Carol Howley, a former professor at City Colleges Of Chicago is accused of forging her credentials, which allowed her to collect hundreds of thousands of dollars in extra salary.

Natatia Trotter-Gordon, a former business director at Kennedy-King College, is accused of depositing thousands of dollars meant for the college into her personal bank account.

"City colleges is dedicated to rooting out this issue," John Gasiorowski, Inspector General City Colleges of Chicago, said.

"We will continue to aggressively pursue those to enrich themselves at the expense of our nation's taxpayers and students," Thomas Utz, U.S. Department of Education Office of Inspector General, said.

"We are pleased to report that corruption will no longer be a part of the curriculum at these schools," Alvarez said.

Twenty-seven defendants have been charge as part of Operation Cookie Jar. Fourteen have pleaded guilty or been convicted on felony charges. Sentences range from probation and restitution to up to 6 years in prison.

Prosecutions have also led to the collection and reimbursement of more than $3 million in restitution payments for local governments and other agencies.

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