The former chief of Chicago Public Schools (CPS) is expected to plead guilty Tuesday to federal charges of bribery. Prosecutors said Barbara Byrd-Bennett steered more than $23 million in no-bid contracts to education firms for $2.3 million in bribes and perks.
Byrd-Bennett’s arraignment, which is scheduled to be before U.S. District Judge Edmond Chang, will be her first court appearance since her Oct. 8 indictment. She was not arrested in the case and her attorney said she will plead guilty in a plea deal, the Associated Press reported. Prosecutors are reportedly expected to disclose their recommended sentence to the judge, who will then sentence Byrd-Bennett.
The 66-year-old faces 20 mail and wire fraud counts and each count carries a maximum 20-year jail term.
The federal indictment accused Byrd-Bennett of a massive scheme with the co-owners of SUPES Academy, her employer before CPS. The charges against Byrd-Bennett come three years after Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel appointed her to lead the country’s third-largest school district in 2012. He said at the time that Byrd-Bennett was "the best and the brightest."
SUPES owners Gary Solomon and Thomas Vranas were also charged in the indictment, along with SUPES and another education consulting firm the two ran. Solomon and Vranas’ arraignment is scheduled for Wednesday afternoon, according to the Chicago Tribune.