In the quest for answers in Chicago’s embarrassing school scandal, many have asked what the mayor knew, and when he knew it.
After all, SUPES Academy chief Gary Solomon, the alleged mastermind of the Byrd-Bennett kickback scheme, is said to have recommended her for the Chicago school job. Her predecessor, Jean Claude-Brizard, has said he also had Solomon’s blessing.
“First, I don’t know Gary Solomon,” Emanuel declared Wednesday. “Never met Gary Solomon, not a supporter of mine in any effort. So I don’t how you could say that based on the fact that there is no relationship between me and Gary Solomon, ever.”
Emanuel suggested that if a relationship did exist, the Feds would have wanted to know about it.
“The US attorney just finished five months of review,” he said. “Didn’t talk to me about anything. Didn’t ask for anything from me. Your assertion of ‘you knowing Gary Solomon’ doesn’t exist.”
Solomon appeared in court Wednesday with co-defendant Thomas Vranas, both pleading not guilty to charges that they orchestrated a $23 million bribery scheme, where Byrd-Bennett alleged steered contracts to their Wilmette consulting firm, in exchange for an agreed share of the profits. While technically fighting the charges, Solomon and Vranas know that Byrd-Bennett has agreed to cooperate with the government, and it appeared after their brief court hearing, that it is likely they are also in negotiations with Federal prosecutors.
“Mr. Solomon has cooperated every step of the way,” said defense attorney Anthony Masciopinto. “We anticipate future cooperation.”
But at the same time, Solomon co-counsel Shelly Kulwin backed up Emanuel’s contention that the two had not met.
“We’re not aware of any relationship Mr. Solomon had with the mayor,” he said.