Skip to contents
Uptown, Edgewater, Rogers Park

Former Uptown Elementary School Officials Defrauded CPS Of $45,000 With Phony Office Supply Invoices, Feds Say

Brennemann Elementary's former principal has also been charged with stealing $200,000 from CPS in a bogus overtime payout scheme.

Joseph Brennemann School in Uptown.
Joe Ward/Block Club Chicago
  • Credibility:

UPTOWN — Two more former administrators at Joseph Brennemann Elementary School in Uptown have been charged in an alleged fraud scheme that the feds say bilked CPS out of nearly $250,000 in bogus overtime payouts and office supply reimbursements, according to a federal indictment.

Former Brennemann assistant principal Jennifer McBride and former school business manager William Jackson have been charged in the alleged fraud scheme.

They face federal wire fraud charges for their alleged involvement in helping Brenneman’s former principal, Sarah Jackson Abedelal, bilk hundreds of thousands of dollars from CPS.

Last year, Abedelal was charged with 10 counts of wire fraud and accused of taking $200,000 in bogus overtime payouts from 2012 to 2019, federal prosecutors said at the time. The feds said Abedelal approved overtime payments to school employees for hours they did not work and then instructed the workers to return the payments to her.

McBride is accused of participating in the overtime kickback scheme, while Jackson is accused of participating in the overtime scheme as well as a second effort to pocket money from CPS invoice payments, federal prosecutors said in an indictment unsealed Wednesday.

Abedelal, Jackson and a sales representative for a company that sold goods to CPS participated in a ploy to submit falsified purchase orders to the school district totaling more than $45,000, prosecutors said.

The invoices were marked as purchases of office and school supplies. Instead, the false invoices were used to cover the purchase of iPhones, iPads and about $30,000 in gift cards for Abedelal to use, the indictment alleges.

RELATED: Former Uptown Principal Charged With Stealing $200K From CPS In Bogus Overtime Payments, Feds Say

Jackson, 37 of Chicago, is charged with five counts of wire fraud and one count of mail fraud. Abedelal, 58 of Chicago, was charged with another count of wire fraud in the invoice scheme, on top of the earlier charges in the overtime payouts.

McBride, 40 of Northbrook, is charged with four counts of wire fraud in the overtime ploy.

In announcing initial charges in the overtime scheme, prosecutors said Abedelal was aided in the effort by an assistant principal and three business managers at Brennemann.

After approving the phony overtime pay, Abedelal told employees to withdraw the overtime funds in cash on the day their check were deposited, according to the charges. The employees would then give the overtime proceeds to Abedelal or McBride in the form of cash or gift cards, it was alleged.

Abedelal told employees the money would be used for school expenses, the feds said. Instead, she pocketed the cash. To conceal the scheme, Abedelal used the fraudulently obtained cash to purchase money orders at a currency exchange, last year’s indictment alleges.

She then used the money orders on personal expenses including her mortgage, according to the indictment.

Abedelal was removed from her post in 2019 amid accusations of “significant financial misconduct.” It is unclear when McBride and Jackson left Brennemann.

McBride and Jackson did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A spokesperson for CPS did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Since the scandal, a new administration has been installed at Brennemann, 4251 N. Clarendon Ave. The school unveiled a new playground in October, replacing one from the 1960s.

Thanks for subscribing to Block Club Chicago, an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom. Every dime we make funds reporting from Chicago’s neighborhoods. Click here to support Block Club with a tax-deductible donation.