Former Chicago Public Schools Principal Charged in Scheme To Fraudulently Obtain Overtime Pay

CHICAGO — A federal grand jury has indicted a former Chicago Public Schools principal on fraud charges for allegedly scheming to fraudulently obtain overtime pay.

A ten-count indictment returned Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Chicago alleges that SARAH JACKSON ABEDELAL carried out the fraud scheme from 2012 to 2019 while serving as Principal of Brennemann Elementary School on the North Side of Chicago.  Abedelal told certain school employees that she would authorize overtime pay for hours the employees would not be required to work, and she directed them to then deliver the proceeds of the unearned overtime to Abedelal or another individual, the indictment states.  Abedelal told the employees who received the overtime that the money would be used to pay legitimate school expenses incurred by Brennemann Elementary, when, in fact, Abedelal intended to convert the money to her own personal use, the indictment states.  The charges allege that Abedelal fraudulently obtained at least $200,000 in CPS money through the scheme.

Abedelal, 57, of Chicago, is charged with ten counts of wire fraud.  She was arrested this morning and is scheduled to make an initial appearance in federal court today at 2:30 p.m. before U.S. Magistrate Judge Heather K. McShain.

The 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.

According to the indictment, Abedelal directed the school employees to withdraw the unearned overtime money in cash on the day the paychecks were deposited into their bank accounts.  Abedelal would then meet with the employees individually in her office or classrooms to collect the cash from them, the indictment states.  To conceal and prevent detection of the scheme, Abedelal used the fraudulently obtained money to purchase money orders at a currency exchange and then pay her personal expenses, including the mortgage on her home, the indictment states.

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.  Each count of wire fraud is punishable by up to 20 years in federal prison. If convicted, the Court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal statutes and the advisory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines.

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