CHICAGO (CBS) — The Chicago Public Schools have filed a lawsuit seeking to recover $65 million from former CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett and SUPES Academy, the principal training firm at the center of a kickback scheme that led to her guilty plea on corruption charges.
Byrd-Bennett pleaded guilty in October to a scheme to steer more than $23 million in no-bid CPS contracts to SUPES, her former employer, in exchange for $2.3 million in bribes and kickbacks. She resigned as CPS chief executive officer last spring after CPS canceled its contract with SUPES.
On Thursday, the Chicago Board of Education filed a lawsuit against Byrd-Bennett, SUPES, and its owners – Thomas Vranas and Gary Solomon – accusing them of breach of contract and unjust enrichment, among other allegations.
“We are going to go after every dollar that was fraudulently obtained in this conspiracy,” CPS CEO Forrest Claypool said Thursday.
According to the lawsuit, the defendants were paid more than $16.3 million in public funds before the bribery scheme was revealed. The suit seeks full reimbursement, plus civil penalties of three times that amount, or nearly $49 million in penalties. In all, CPS is seeking more than $65 million in damages and penalties.
Vranas and Solomon have pleaded not guilty to federal charges for their roles in the alleged kickback scheme.