4 charged with stealing $876K from Chicago schools

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Thursday, May 14, 2015

CHICAGO -- Authorities have charged four people in connection with the theft of more than $876,000 from the Chicago Public Schools through a fraudulent billing scheme.

Cook County court records show the arrest warrants name 36-year-old Jermaine Robinson, and 46-year-old Sidney Bradley, both of Chicago; 49-year-old Albert Bennett of Carpentersville; and 55-year-old Paul Simmons of Calumet City. A judge Tuesday set bail at $400,000 for Robinson and $200,000 for the other three.

All four have been charged with felony theft of government property.

CPS released a statement on the arrests that said, "Keeping our resources in the classroom is essential to help students and teachers continue to make academic gains. While we cannot comment on this ongoing investigation, CPS has already taken proactive steps to prevent any similar incident from occurring in the future."

CPS spokesperson Michael Passman says that since the alleged theft occurred, CPS has implemented stronger controls on employee reimbursements and internal accounts to provide more comprehensive overnight of transactions. CPS has also required District staff to undergo training on procurement policies and legal requirements.

A Chicago Public Schools inspector general's report found a CPS operations employee "orchestrated multiple fraudulent purchasing and reimbursement schemes" from late 2009 through early 2014.

Most of the alleged theft occurred at Clark High School on the West Side.

It's not clear if any of the four have attorneys.

WLS-TV contributed to this report