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4 charged with stealing $876K from Chicago schools

CHICAGO - Authorities have charged four people in connection with the theft of more than $876,000 from the Chicago Public Schools through a fraudulent billing scheme.

All four have been charged with felony theft of government property. CBS Chicago reports three of the four owned companies that last month were permanently banned from doing any further business with Chicago Public Schools (CPS).

A CPS inspector general's report found a district operations employee "orchestrated multiple fraudulent purchasing and reimbursement schemes" from late 2009 through early 2014.

Cook County court records show the arrest warrants name 36-year-old Jermaine Robinson, and 46-year-old Sidney Bradley, both of Chicago; 49-year-old Albert Bennett of Carpentersville; and 55-year-old Paul Simmons of Calumet City. A judge Tuesday set bail at $400,000 for Robinson and $200,000 for the other three.

CBS Chicago reports the four are also suspected in a wider theft scheme connected to several people who have worked for the city's schools.

Arrest warrants have reportedly been issued for some of those employees, who are accused of submitting fake invoices for hundreds of thousands of dollars in work that was never done, or office supplies that were never purchased.