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Four charged in theft of more than $876,000 from CPS

Four people this week were named in arrest warrants tied to the theft of more than $876,000 from two Chicago Public Schools.

Officials with the Cook County state’s attorney’s office would not comment on the case Wednesday, but according to court records, Judge Nicholas Ford ordered the arrest warrants.

Ford on Tuesday issued a $400,000 arrest warrant for Jermaine Robinson, 36, of Chicago. Sidney Bradley, 46, of Chicago; Albert Bennett, 49, of Carpentersville; and Paul Simmons, 55, of Calumet City, were named in $200,000 arrest warrants, court records show.

All four were charged with theft of government property.

Since the alleged theft took place, CPS put in place “stronger controls on employee reimbursements and internal accounts,” officials reiterated in a statement Wednesday.

“Keeping our resources in the classroom is essential to help students and teachers continue to make academic gains. While we cannot comment on this ongoing investigation, CPS has already taken proactive steps to prevent any similar incident from occurring in the future,” the CPS statement read.

Earlier this year, it was revealed the Chicago Board of Education’s inspector general was working with the state’s attorney’s office to investigate the financial scams from schools that sources at the time identified as Gage Park and Michele Clark high schools.

An unnamed school operations employee allegedly “orchestrated multiple fraudulent purchasing and reimbursement schemes” with CPS staffers and vendors between 2009 and 2014, according to a January report from inspector general Nicholas Schuler.

In one instance, $581,947 was paid to two business owners for goods and services “that were never actually provided” to the two high schools, Schuler’s report alleged.

In another scam, a businessman kicked back more than $111,000 to the unnamed employee “in connection with $216,000 worth of purchases” from the high school, the report said.

The employee resigned while under investigation and five other employees who helped with the scam were fired or resigned.

The principal of Michele Clark Academic Prep “facilitated” the scheme by giving the conniving employee her computer password, the report states.

But Beulah McLoyd was let off with a “warning resolution” and allowed to keep her job, it adds.

That warning resolution was approved by the Board of Education in August 2014. It states: “The conduct outlined in the Warning Resolution will result in the preferring of dismissal charges against Beulah McLoyd, pursuant to the statute, if said conduct is corrected immediately and maintained thereafter in a satisfactory fashion.”

The scam came to light after an audit, officials said.

Contributing: Lauren FitzPatrick, Becky Schlikerman