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Ex-Chicago elementary school principal accused of wire fraud

July 14, 2021 GMT

CHICAGO (AP) — A former Chicago elementary school principal has been indicted on federal fraud charges for approving false overtime claims by staff and obtaining some of money through kickbacks, authorities said Wednesday.

Sarah Jackson Abedelal, who was arrested Wednesday, is charged with 10 counts of wire fraud. Abedelal, 57, pleaded not guilty through attorney Steven Decker during a court appearance via a telephone link.

Federal prosecutors allege that between 2012 and 2019, Abedelal told staff to withdraw their unearned overtime money and deliver the cash directly to her or the assistant principal. School staff participating in the scheme were told the money would be used for legitimate expenses incurred by Brennemann Elementary School on Chicago’s North Side.

Abedelal allegedly purchased money orders with the approximately $200,000 she allegedly obtained, which she then used to pay personal expenses, including a mortgage.

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Although no charges have been filed against others, the indictment alleges an assistant principal and three business managers would prepare bogus overtime sheets lying about overtime. It claims the four told school employees to sign the sheets. However, it doesn’t say anyone else knew where the money was going.