A former southwest suburban school superintendent blew his district’s money on an obedience school for dogs, padded his pockets and cooked the books all while falsely complaining the state of Illinois was $5 million behind on its payments, a grand jury has alleged.
Now Lawrence Wyllie, 79, of Naperville, faces five counts of wire fraud and one count of embezzlement for leaving Lincoln-Way Community High School District 210 on the hook for $7 million in unnecessary debt and allegedly stealing $80,000.
Wyllie retired as superintendent in June 2013. His arraignment is set for Sept. 25. He faces a maximum of 20 years in prison for each wire fraud count, and a maximum of 10 years for the embezzlement.
But two of his attorneys, Dan Webb and Bob Trevarthen, said in a statement that Wyllie is “not guilty” and was “a model educator in Illinois for 55 years.”
“Dr. Wyllie did not receive any funds or profit as a result of the bonds issued by the school district,” they said. “All of the bond money referenced in the indictment was expended on school-related issues. Dr. Wyllie looks forward to his day in court where he is confident he will be found not guilty.”
The indictment revealed Thursday notes that the Lincoln-Way school board renewed Wyllie’s contract in 2010 based in part on the school district’s financial health. But the feds say he took $7 million in bond funds he had promised to use on capital expenses and used them instead for day-to-day expenses, including at least $1 million for payroll.
By reclassifying expenses and moving money between bank accounts, Wyllie made the school district’s bottom line look healthier and lowered its reported cost-per-pupil calculation, the feds say.
Meanwhile, in December 2009, he complained the state was $5 million behind on its payments to the district. The feds say the state was not delinquent in that amount, and the school district was spending beyond its means.
Wyllie also allegedly took $50,000 from the school district to build and operate Superdog, a dog obedience training school. Wyllie then allegedly took $16,500 for a retirement stipend he wasn’t owed and wrongly paid himself $14,000 for unused vacation days.