UPDATE: Per a statement from Michael Scudder, Counsel for Barbara Byrd-Bennett: "As the U.S. Attorney's Office indicated at its press conference today, Barbara Byrd-Bennett will plead guilty to charges in the indictment. As part of accepting full responsibility for her conduct, she will continue to cooperate with the government, including testifying truthfully if called upon to do so."
- Former Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett is expected to plead guilty to bribery charges listed in an indictment issued Thursday.
- According to the indictment, Byrd-Bennett redirected over $23 million worth of no-bid contracts to a former employer, The SUPES Academy, in what U.S. Attorney Zachary Fardon described as "a scheme to secretly profit from schools."
- There's no word yet on whether a plea deal may be reached or how much prison time Byrd-Bennett might serve.
Among the most controversial CPS deals with SUPES was a massive $20.5 million no-bid principal training contract, the Chicago Sun-Times reports, noting that the deal was questioned by some at the time because the organization wasn't known for training principals. Byrd-Bennett stepped down in June after taking a paid leave of absence in April. She was replaced by current CPS CEO Jesse Ruiz.
A statement issued by Mayor Rahm Emanuel upon Byrd-Bennett's resignation stated that he was "saddened by the circumstances" of her departure, but the situation has likely left some egg on his face, as he reportedly handpicked her to lead Chicago's public schools. According to the Chicago Tribune, the investigation had also extended to City Hall, with subpoenaed letters from SUPES bragging about sway held over the mayor's office and their heavy involvement in the recruitment of several officials.
SUPES owners Gary Solomon and Thomas Vranas were also charged in the alleged kickback scheme, which also included Synesi Associates LLC — also owned by Solomon and Vranas.