Sales Rep Charged in Connection to Fraud Scheme at Chicago’s Brennemann Elementary

(WTTW News)(WTTW News)

A sales representative has been accused of misappropriating $75,000 in Chicago Public Schools funds in connection with a fraud scheme at a Buena Park elementary school that has already seen its principal and other officials hit with federal charges.

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Debra ​​Bannack, 62, of Schaumburg, has been charged with three counts of wire fraud and one count of mail fraud as part of a widespread scheme at Brennemann Elementary, which was allegedly orchestrated by ex-principal Sarah Jackson Abedelal.

Abedelal, along with former Brennemann employees Jennifer McBride and William Jackson, have all been charged previously with wire fraud.

According to a federal indictment, Abedelal, Jackson and other CPS employees would order non-school items for their personal use including gift cards, iPhones and iPads from ​​Bannack and the company she represented (identified only as “Company A”).

After that company provided those items, Abedelal, Jackson and other CPS employees would then allegedly submit false purchase orders to CPS to make it appear as though the order was actually for legitimate school supplies — like paper, ink and toner — which were never delivered, according to the indictment.

According to the indictment, ​​Bannack would generate false invoices on behalf of her company, “which purported to be requests for payment for legitimate school supplies, but which were, in truth, meant to conceal and facilitate payment for non-school, personal items ordered by Abedelal, Jackson, and other CPS employees.”

Federal prosecutors allege Bannack and the CPS employees fraudulently misappropriated approximately $75,000 in CPS funds.

Abedelal was initially charged last year after federal authorities alleged she authorized overtime for school employees and then collected back that cash for her own use. Prosecutors claimed she collected some $200,000 through an overtime scheme between 2012 and 2019 under the guise that it would be used for school expenses.

Instead, Abedelal used the money to pay for her mortgage and other personal expenses, according to the indictment.

Each count Bannack faces is punishable by up to 20 years in prison. An arraignment has not yet been scheduled.

Contact Matt Masterson: @ByMattMasterson[email protected] | (773) 509-5431


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