Former City Colleges Leader Charged In $350,000 Kickback Scheme | WBEZ
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Former City Colleges Leader Charged In $350,000 Kickback Scheme

A former vice chancellor at the City Colleges of Chicago, along with his wife and other former City Colleges employees, were indicted in federal court for engaging in a $350,000 kickback scheme that awarded contracts to companies tied to the former official, his wife and other City Colleges employees.

Sherod Gordon, 45, of Oak Park, is charged with 16 counts of wire fraud. Gordon served as associate vice chancellor of community relations and student recruitment before serving as vice chancellor of legislative and community affairs until 2017. The alleged scheme took place between 2013 and 2017.

According to the indictment announced Wednesday, some City Colleges employees and Gordon’s outside associates created companies to apply for community canvassing and flyer distribution contracts that Gordon oversaw. Sometimes, work was never performed even though City Colleges paid submitted invoices, the indictment alleges. In some cases, Gordon received payments from vendor companies, with some of those payments coming as kickbacks.

The other former City Colleges employees named in the indictment are Krystal Stokes and Marva Smith. Smith is charged with two counts of wire fraud and was fired by City Colleges Wednesday morning, WBEZ has learned. Smith served as a liaison for local government agencies.

Stokes was charged with two counts of wire fraud and one count of making a false statement to the FBI. She worked as a community outreach worker for City Colleges from November 2011 to February 2014.

A call to Gordon’s attorney Gregory Mitchell was not immediately returned.

“I would like to thank the U.S. Attorney’s office and CCC’s Inspector General for their efforts in bringing this matter to light and ensuring the perpetrators are held responsible for their actions,” Chancellor Juan Salgado said in a statement. “While the unethical acts detailed in the U.S. Attorney’s indictment occurred prior to my tenure at CCC, I am nonetheless appalled and personally offended that employees would not only abuse their positions of trust, but squander CCC’s limited resources for their own personal gain.”

City Colleges says it plans to hire a full-time procurement staff member to research vendors to ensure CCC knows the vendor owners and to require all vendors submit an economic disclosure statement. They also plan to mandate that any vendor selected for a service that doesn’t require approval from the board of trustees must be in existence for at least two years.

The indictment was returned Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Chicago. Arraignments for the eight people charged haven’t been scheduled.

Kate McGee covers education for WBEZ. Follow her on Twitter at @WBEZeducation and @McGeeReports.

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