Feds say key player in CPS scandal has offered ‘substantial assistance,’ should get sentencing break

The unusual move comes nearly three years after Gary Solomon was sentenced to seven years in prison.

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Gary Solomon leaves the Dirksen Federal Courthouse in 2016.

Gary Solomon leaves the Dirksen Federal Courthouse in 2016.

Sun-Times file photo

Federal prosecutors asked a judge Friday to reduce the prison sentence of a key player in the scandal that brought down former Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett, citing his “substantial assistance” to an investigation in Maryland.

The unusual move comes almost three years after U.S. District Judge Edmond Chang sentenced Gary Solomon in 2017 to seven years in prison. Prosecutors said he orchestrated Byrd-Bennett’s hiring at CPS to scam the district out of millions.

While Byrd-Bennett destroyed her career for virtually no money, prosecutors said Solomon pocketed more than $5 million from the company at the heart of the scandal. They also said he was “untruthful” and “misled” the government. They tried to persuade the judge to give him nine years in prison “to account for Solomon’s corruption and his lack of true remorse.”

Now, in a three-page filing Friday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Lindsay Jenkins told Chang that Solomon offered “substantial assistance” to an investigation in Maryland. Though she said he had given information to prosecutors before his sentencing, she wrote, “it had not become useful to the government” at the time.

After his sentencing, Jenkins wrote that Solomon, “agreed to continue to provide information and did provide additional information about the Maryland matter to (the Maryland State Prosecutor’s) Office at its request. Since the conclusion of that matter in 2019, the government has determined that the information the defendant provided has become useful.”

For that reason, Jenkins asked Chang to knock as many as 13 months off Solomon’s sentence. She also said she expects Solomon’s defense attorneys to ask for an even bigger break.

As it stands, Solomon is not due out of prison until October 2023, according to federal prison records. He is being held in a minimum-security camp in Duluth, Minnesota.

Byrd-Bennett was sentenced in 2017 to 4 ½ years in prison. She is serving her time in a minimum-security camp in Alderson, West Virginia, and is due for release in June 2021.

Contributing: Lauren FitzPatrick

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