Thursday, January 14, 2010

Charles Flowers, suburban regional schools superintendent, arrested and charged with corruption

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Charles Flowers, Superintendent of the Suburban Cook County Regional Office of Education, turned himself into authorities today on charges of public corruption, officials said today. 
Flowers is alleged to have stolen thousands of dollars from the bankrupt agency.  He and the agency are also owe $190,000 loaned by the Cook County Board that was never repaid.
County Commissioner Elizabeth "Liz" Doody Gorman praised the arrest. Gorman was the only commissioner who opposed the loan when it was first brought before the board, and last year, the entire board reversed itself and joined Gorman in condemning Flowers' alleged mismanagement of the office.
“As a suburban commissioner, I worked closely with his predecessor Robert Ingraffia which gave me familiarity and perspective of the office so when Flowers came to the county board asking for the loan I did my due diligence and was made aware of some alleged questionable practices taking place in his office.  That’s why I stood my ground and was the only commissioner to vote “No” and oppose the $190,000 loan to Flowers.”  In July, a civil suit was brought against Flowers and the agency by the state's attorney's office for failing to repay this $190,000 loan from the county.
“It’s such a shame that the voters chose to replace a well-respected career educator and a man with the highest integrity like Robert Ingraffia with an alleged criminal like Charles Flowers.”
State's Attorney Anita Alvarez is expected to formally announce criminal charges against Flowers at a press conference this afternoon.
The charges are the result of a separate criminal probe into allegations that he used agency funds for his own personal gain. Last year, a state audit found that the agency was $1 million in debt and accused Flowers of using a work credit card for personal use as well as giving a $6,000 advance to a relative he hired to work for him.
-- Ray Hanania

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