Former City Colleges of Chicago leader charged in $350K kickback scheme
Contracts went to relatives, associates of former vice chancellor in exchange for kickbacks, charges state. Some contracts required no work.
Sharod Gordon, a former vice chancellor for the beleaguered City Colleges of Chicago, has been indicted on federal charges in a kickback scheme, according to the Chicago Tribune. Seven others were also charged with conducting a contracts-for-cash plot that cost the college $350,000.
Charges state Gordon made deals with vendors and companies to which he, his ex-wife and two former City Colleges employees had personal connections. Gordon was charged with 16 counts of wire fraud.
In some case the companies did no work for the contracts, which Gordon had the power to award as long as they were under $25,000. The other four defendants were associated with the vendors to which Gordon gave contracts in exchange for cash.
Gordon began working for City Colleges in 2011. He was fired in May 2017 for falsifying a subordinate’s time sheet and not reporting vacation time on his own. When he left his vice chancellor job he was receiving a taxpayer-funded salary of $148,000, according to the Tribune.
City Colleges Chancellor Juan Salgado told the Tribune in a statement the college will take steps to ensure kickback schemes do not happen in the future. He said they will hire a fulltime procurement officer and will review all vendor contracts to make sure they have been ethically contracted and will do work for the college. Salgado was especially “appalled and personally offended” to see the college’s limited resources devoted toward corruption.
City Colleges has seven schools across the city. They were hard hit during the state’s budget crisis and had to lay off many workers while eliminating 100% pension contributions for some administrators.
The college had a graduation rate of only 7% in 2011 and has since seen enrollment drop 32% since 2010. Students still are not attending, even though former Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration tried to revitalize the colleges with a $560 million investment.
Chicago is the most corrupt city in America, and the struggling City Colleges could ill afford to lose $350,000. Corruption has cost Illinois taxpayers over $550 million annually in lost economic activity.
Gordon’s name adds to a growing list of government leaders facing corruption charges. Chicago taxpayers already face the highest public debt load of the nation’s 10 largest cities, so adding the cost of those who betray the public trust to enrich themselves is especially galling.