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Flowers owes state cops $105,000

Wednesday, July 22, 2009
SouthtownStar
by Duaa Eldeib

Charles Flowers' Suburban Cook County Regional Education Office owes more than $100,000 to the men in blue, a spokesman for the state police confirmed.

The regional office contracts with the Illinois State Police to process fingerprinting cards, said Illinois State Police spokesman Lt. Luis Gutierrez.

The office is $105,000 behind on payments, Gutierrez said.

All teachers are required to complete fingerprint-based criminal history records checks before beginning jobs with a school district, according to state school code.

In 2008, Gutierrez said the office owed $5,000. At the start of this year, the balance was up to $82,000, he added.

"We're very limited as to what information we can share because of the current investigation," Gutierrez said.

It was unclear what the state police can or would do to collect the late payments.

The SouthtownStar first reported on the alleged financial and ethical misconduct at the office this spring.

Since then, the Cook County state's attorney's office has launched an investigation. A state audit slammed the office, which is nearly $1 million in the red.

On July 1, state's attorney investigators raided the Westchester regional office and Supt. Flowers' Maywood home and seized computers and documents.

In addition, the Illinois State Board of Education has begun the process of revoking Flowers' certificates, which would render him unfit for the position.

The state's attorney filed a lawsuit against Flowers and the regional office July 13, alleging he engaged in a scheme to defraud Cook County and avoided officials when he defaulted on a $190,000 loan from the county. The lawsuit called the district finances "disastrous."

The county board has taken a unanimous no-confidence vote against Flowers, passed a resolution to abolish the regional office and demanded Flowers' immediate resignation.

Flowers has not returned numerous calls for comment.

Duaa Eldeib can be reached at deldeib@southtownstar.com or (708) 633-5960.



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