A sales representative is the fourth person facing charges alongside an interim Waukegan elementary school principal in a fraud scheme involving Chicago Public Schools, prosecutors announced.
In mid-February, Waukegan School District 60 Superintendent Theresa Plascencia announced that Whittier Elementary School Interim Principal Jennifer McBride was placed on leave after the district was made aware of charges against her.
“Our District was made aware this evening that the Interim Principal at Whittier was indicted today on charges related to alleged financial misconduct. The allegations are not related to her performance at Whittier Elementary or with the Waukegan Public Schools. They precede the individual’s time in our District,” Plascencia said in a statement to parents.
“The employee has been placed on administrative leave pending further investigation by our District, effective immediately. We are working to select an experienced temporary replacement at Whittier while our investigation continues. District-level administrators will help at Whittier until a replacement is located. We can not share further details of our investigation at this time,” Plascencia said.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois announced on February 16 that McBride, 40, of Northbrook, and William Jackson, 37, of Chicago, were added to a federal indictment in a fraud scheme.
McBride was charged with four counts of wire fraud and Jackson, who was the business manager, was charged with five counts of wire fraud and one count of mail fraud.
The charges are part of an investigation in which Sarah Jackson Abedelal, 58, of Chicago, was the first to be charged.
On Tuesday, prosecutors announced a fourth person, identified as Debra M. Bannack, 62, of Schaumburg, had been indicted on three counts of wire fraud and one count of mail fraud.
An indictment alleges Abedelal carried out a fraud scheme while serving as the principal of Brennemann Elementary School in Chicago.
Abedelal, Jackson, and Bannack — who worked as a sales representative for a company that sold goods to Chicago Public Schools — allegedly submitted or assisted in submitting false purchase orders and invoices to CPS which were purported to be for school supplies.
Bannack’s company provided iPhones, iPads and pre-paid gift cards to Abedelal, Jackson and others at the school for their personal use, the indictment said.
Bannack and the CPS employees fraudulently misappropriated approximately $75,000 in CPS funds, the indictment said.
Prosecutors said a second part of the scheme was allegedly carried out by Abedelal and McBride, with assistance from Jackson, two other former employees of the school and others.
Abedelal authorized unearned overtime pay for certain employees and directed them to deliver the proceeds to Abedelal or McBride in the form of cash or gift cards, the indictment said.
Abedelal told the employees that the money would be used to fund legitimate school expenses, when, in fact, Abedelal intended to convert the money to her own personal use, the indictment alleges.
Abedelal, McBride, Jackson and others prepared or caused to be prepared fraudulent overtime sheets to conceal the scheme, the indictment said.
Abedelal, Jackson and McBride have all pleaded not guilty to the charges. Bannack has not been arraigned yet on the charges.
Each count in the indictment is punishable by up to 20 years in federal prison.