Prosecutors say head of consulting firm helped in fraud plan

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CHICAGO (AP) _ Federal prosecutors contend the head of a consulting firm laid the foundation for an ex-employee to become head of the Chicago Public Schools.

Former schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett was ousted for participating in a scheme that steered contracts to education-services companies in exchange for anticipated kickbacks.

SUPES Academy and Synesi Associates education consulting companies co-owner Gary Solomon pleaded guilty in October to wire fraud and faces up to 20 years in prison. In a brief, he’s asking for 18 months in prison when sentenced March 24.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Megan Church said Tuesday Solomon is “glossing over the significance of his corruption.”

Byrd-Bennett admitted she steered contracts to SUPES Academy for up to $2.3 million in kickbacks. She faces about seven years in prison when she’s sentenced later this year.