Thursday, July 13, 2006

Ex-CPS official indicted over bribes

The following story appeared in the Chicago Sun Times.

Ex-CPS official indicted over bribes

July 12, 2006

BY NATASHA KORECKI Federal Courts Reporter

A former Chicago Public Schools official who is the brother of a high-ranking mayoral aide was indicted on charges he took bribes in exchange for handing out millions of dollars worth of school contracts, officials disclosed today.

James Picardi, former assistant manager of operations and operations manager for the school system, was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit bribery. Picardi, 51, of Wauconda, is the brother of Michael Picardi, the city's Streets and Sanitation commissioner.

Federal authorities said James Picardi and two others scammed the schools out of money tied to fencing contracts.

Picardi received weekly payments totaling $5,000 in exchange for helping James Levin, a fence company executive, land contracts with the schools, authorities said.

Levin, former president of Tru-Link Fence and Products Co., and Tru-Link Commercial Inc., was charged with one count of wire fraud and tax evasion. Also charged with conspiracy to commit bribery is Arthur Miller, who owns All Power Electric.

CPS paid more than $2.6 million to Tru-Link between 1998 and 2000 for 106 fencing projects.

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