Chicago State University employee, mother charged in financial scheme

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A former high-ranking Chicago State University employee is accused of hiring her mother in a ghost payrolling scheme and awarding a university consulting contract to a business owned by a family friend without approval from her bosses.

LaShondra Peebles’ mother, 65-year-old Shirley Kyle, was also charged for her alleged role in the fraudulent plot.

Peebles’ attorney, Susan Pavlow, insinuated Thursday that the married mother of five was targeted in the criminal matter because she filed a civil lawsuit against Chicago State in March this year.

Peebles’ pending lawsuit claims that she was fired from the university last year for not backdating a contract and refusing to wrongfully accuse a Chicago State employee of sexual harassment, according to her other attorney Anthony Pinelli.

But university officials maintained Peebles was fired in June 2014 after an internal investigation uncovered the financial misappropriation and the Cook County State’s Attorney Office was contacted.

Peebles’ lawsuit, which is filled with a “series of fabrications and fantastic stories,” only served as distraction from the crime that was committed, university spokesman Thomas Wogan said.

Peebles, who was the university’s director of compliance and interim vice president for enrollment management, hired her mother for a part-time position that she posted on the school’s website last year even though 3,268 others applied, prosecutors said.

Peebles, 43, never told colleagues Kyle was her mother, Assistant State’s Attorney Victoria Kennedy said. Moreover, Kyle, who came to the South Side school to fill out paperwork, allegedly never showed up for work from the time she was hired between March 3, 2014 and May 30, 2014. Nevertheless, Kyle received six checks worth $4,450 from the university, Kennedy said.

During the same time last year, Peebles also tried to get her supervisor to hire a company named PMO501 to perform consulting services. But her request was rejected.

Despite being told not to award PMO501 with a contract, Peebles used a Chicago State credit card that she was not authorized to use to pay PMO501 $4,748 on April 21, 2014, Kennedy said.

Because any payment of over $3,000 at the university requires authorization, Peebles allegedly made two payments of $2,700 and $2,048 to PMO501 through PayPal.

Peebles also manipulated computer software to get approval of the PMO501 contract, Kennedy said. And after she took medical leave, Peebles allegedly showed up on campus that May to approve the contract through the legal department, which she had no authority to do.

PMO501 is owned by a family friend of Peebles, investigators later learned.

Peebles, of the 9100 block of South Pleasant Avenue, is charged theft, official misconduct, wire fraud and computer fraud.

Kyle, of Oak Park, faces theft charges.

Peebles and Kyle both have their master’s degrees, their attorneys said in court Thursday.

Judge Timothy Joyce noted that the offenses were probationable and released both mother and daughter on their own recognizance.

Peebles was hired at Chicago State in 2012, according to Wogan.

“It’s a very unfortunate situation when you place your trust in an employee and that trust is violated. It’s a disservice to the students and taxpayers,” said Wogan.

Wogan, who was in court Thursday, added that officials were grateful that the fraud was caught before more money was taken.

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