The numbers for City Colleges of Chicago are impressive: seven community colleges, six satellite campuses, 4,000 instructors and more than 80,000 students across the metro. Another figure has been making headlines for the system, however: a former vice-chancellor and seven others are facing federal fraud charges in what officials call a $350,000 kickback scheme.
The eight people indicted were allegedly involved in a plan that awarded contracts to firms tied to the former vice chancellor’s associates and relatives.
Forty-five-year-old Sharod Gordon was associate vice chancellor for community relations and recruitment while the alleged fraud took place, the Chicago Tribune reports. Gordon now faces 16 counts of wire fraud.
His ex-wife, Angelique Orr, was also indicted, as were two former City Colleges employees who worked with Gordon. The four remaining defendants were all associated with firms that were allegedly awarded contracts by Gordon in exchange for kickbacks.
Chancellor Juan Salgado has just announced new internal processes to prevent future fraud, the Tribune reports. The measures include a new procurement officer and vendor disclosure statements.
According to court documents, Gordon was authorized to solicit quotes and then award some contracts that were under $25,000. Prosecutors claim that over a four-year period, he awarded hundreds of thousands of dollars in contracts to companies in which he had an undisclosed interest.
After the contracts were awarded, the firms then allegedly kicked thousands of dollars back to Gordon in cash and cashier’s checks. Some of the payments went to his then-wife, prosecutors charge. Some of the companies were apparently created by Gordon and his associates specifically for the purpose of redirecting City Colleges’ money back to them.
It is always important to remember that allegations are not evidence of wrongdoing and that all defendants can fight to protect their rights and freedom with the help of criminal defense attorneys.