Cook county regional school superintendent Charles Flowers insists he has paid back any questionable charges on his County supplied credit card. And his attorney told a judge today any other questionable financial dealings had likewise been resolved.
In court, attorney Tim Grace declared that Flowers had reimbursed the county for personal charges and cash advances. And he contended that "consulting fees" paid to subordinates, totaling over $20,000, had actually been salary advances which had likewise been repaid.
"It's my understanding that if I have a credit card, and it's my credit card, and I use that credit card for business and I use that credit card for personal use, I'm not quite sure when there's a co-mingling of the money," Grace said. "My understanding is he may have been a little sloppy with his credit cards, but I don't see any theft from the public coffers with respect to the credit cards."
Actually, the county charges go beyond allegations that Flowers misused his business-related charge cards. Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez called the allegations against Flowers a "bold and brazen scheme to defraud."
"It is a repulsive example of public corruption," Alvarez said. "In this case, we have an elected official who is supposed to be working for the taxpayers of Cook County, who apparently had the absurd notion that the taxpayers were working for him."
Flowers was also accused of using office funds to make cash advances to employees which were never fully repaid. The charges say those included $6,000 paid to his sister, and another $9,000 to a girlfriend, both of whom he put on his agency's payroll.
Prosecutors say the "consulting fees" paid to two employees amounted to payments for work never done.
Flowers, who is accused of official misconduct and theft, was freed after he posted bond. He left court without comment.