Sales Representative Charged in Federal Indictment Alleging Procurement Fraud at Chicago Elementary School

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FILE PHOTO: Signage is seen at the United States Department of Justice headquarters in Washington, D.C.

CHICAGO — An ongoing federal investigation into an alleged procurement fraud scheme at a Chicago elementary school has resulted in charges against a sales representative for a Chicago Public Schools vendor.

An indictment returned Monday in U.S. District Court in Chicago alleges that DEBRA M. BANNACK schemed with the Principal and Business Manager of Brennemann Elementary School on the North Side of Chicago to submit false purchase orders to CPS for school materials that Bannack’s company would purportedly supply.  In reality, Bannack’s company provided iPhones, iPads, and pre-paid gift cards to the Principal, Business Manager, and others at the school, for their personal use, the indictment alleges.  As a result of the scheme, Bannack and the CPS employees fraudulently misappropriated approximately $75,000 in CPS funds to which they were not entitled, the indictment states.

Bannack, 62, of Schaumburg, Ill., is charged with three counts of wire fraud and one count of mail fraud.  Each of the counts is punishable by up to 20 years in federal prison.  Arraignment in federal court in Chicago has not yet been scheduled.

The Principal – SARAH JACKSON ABEDELAL, of Chicago – and the Business Manager – WILLIAM JACKSON, of Chicago – were previously charged with participating in the fraud scheme.  Abedelal and Jackson have pleaded not guilty and are awaiting trial.

The Bannack indictment was announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Emmerson Buie, Jr., Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Field Office of the FBI; and Will Fletcher, Inspector General of the Chicago Board of Education, Office of Inspector General.  The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Terry M. Kinney and Patrick Mott.

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The public is reminded that an indictment is not evidence of guilt.  The defendant is presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.  If convicted, the Court must impose reasonable sentences under federal statutes and the advisory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines.