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Cook County Board wants criminal probe of regional schools superintendent

Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Chicago Tribune
by Hal Dardick

The Cook County Board today expressed “no confidence” in the county's suburban school administrator and called for criminal investigations following a highly critical audit that alleged misuse of public funds.

The state auditor general has already forwarded to prosectors the audit of the relatively small office run by Regional Cook County Schools Superintendent Charles Flowers. The state audit found the debt in Flowers' office had soared to nearly $1 million as he made personal charges on his office credit card and a $6,000 cash advance to a relative who worked for him.

Flowers, who was elected in 2006, could not immediately be reached for comment.

A county resolution, approved unanimously, called on the state attorney general and county state’s attorney to launch criminal probes and for the state’s attorney to recover $190,000 in county funds that the board loaned to the superintendent's office last year.

“We took this man on his word, and unfortunately, we were sidetracked and buffaloed,” said Commissioner John Daley (D-Chicago), chairman of the county Finance Committee. The loan is due on June 30.

The resolution was introduced by Commissioner Elizabeth Gorman (R-Orland Park), who was the only commissioner to vote against the loan last year. She said the audit released last week by state Auditor General William Holland indicated “flagrant corruption” in the office.

The audit noted the office deficit more than doubled to $942,000 from 2007 to last year and questioned whether the office had the “ability to continue as a going concern.” The office did not have receipts to back 70 percent of the charges on Flowers’ credit card and paid more than $21,000 to two assistant regional superintendents for consulting work they did during regular working hours,, the audit stated.



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