CHICAGO – A former board member for the North Chicago school district was sentenced last Wednesday to 10 years in prison for her role in steering $21 million in busing contracts to favored companies in return for an estimated $566,000 in kickbacks.
Prosecutors say Gloria Harper (photo right) operated the kickback scheme with the district’s former transportation director, Alice Sherrod, from 2001 to 2010, ChicagoTribune.com reports.
At one point, Harper and Sherrod were getting $20,000 a month in kickbacks from a busing company co-owned by Tommie Boddie. In return, the pair cajoled the school district into increasing “the number of students transported by his company,” reports ChicagoTribune.com.
Harper upped the ante a couple years later by advising Boddie and Derrick Eubanks to start a new busing company, Safety First Transportation Inc. Harper promised to use her considerable sway with fellow school board members to steer bussing contracts to Safety First Transportation if Boddie and Eubanks agreed to split the profits with her and Sherrod.
Harper’s three co-conspirators – Sherrod, Boddie and Eubanks – “have all pleaded guilty and await sentencing,” the news site notes.