Cook County State’s Attorney Files Civil Lawsuit Against Cook County Regional Office of Education

CHICAGO–(ENEWSPF)–July 14, 2009.  The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office has filed a civil lawsuit against Superintendent Charles Flowers and the Suburban Cook County Regional Office of Education seeking repayment of a past due county loan and alleging that Flowers engaged in a scheme to defraud Cook County when he obtained the loan, State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez announced today.

The suit, which was filed in Cook County Chancery court today, contains three counts, including fraud, and seeks full repayment of the $190,000 loan made by the county to Flowers and the Regional Office of Education. The suit also seeks interest and punitive damages, according to Alvarez.

According to the lawsuit, in June of 2008 the Cook County Board of Commissioners authorized the execution of an agreement and interest free loan in the amount of $190,000 at the request of Flowers, who told board members the loan was needed because the Regional Office of Education (R.O.E.) was facing a short-term deficit and was under funded. The loan, which was due and payable in full on June 30, 2009, has not been repaid to Cook County and neither Flowers nor any representative from the R.O.E. has communicated with county officials regarding the loan or its repayment despite repeated requests to do so.

“Cook County entered into this agreement with the promise and the full expectation that this loan would be paid back in full according to the terms of the agreement,” Alvarez said. “This is a clear breach of that agreement and we will pursue reimbursement to the fullest extent of the law.”

This past June, the Auditor General of the State of Illinois released the results of a financial audit of the R.O.E. in which the auditor reported that the loan from the county was not recorded in the general ledger of the R.O.E. and that it was unlikely the loan could be repaid given the fiscal condition of the regional office. In light of the disclosures of the auditor’s report, the State’s Attorney’s Office on June 24 sent Flowers and the R.O.E. a letter demanding repayment of the loan on behalf of the county.

The lawsuit contains the following counts:

Count 1 – Scheme to Defraud

Flowers and the R.O.E. are alleged to have defrauded the county by requesting and promising to repay the loan despite having knowledge that the district finances were in a “disastrous” state. The suit further alleges that Flowers “avoided conversation and contact with the county when asked to discuss the time frame for making payments on the loan.

Count 2 – Breach of Contract

The suit alleges that Flowers and the R.O.E. committed a breach of contract for failing to repay the loan and seeks compensatory damages in the amount of $190,000 plus statutory interest since June 30, 3009 as well as legal fees and costs incurred by the county.

Count 3 – Breach of the Promissory Note

The suit alleges that Flowers breached the terms of the promissory note by failing to repay the loan. .