Suburban superintendent stole thousands from impoverished schools: prosecutors
BY RUMMANA HUSSAIN Criminal Courts Reporter email@example.com August 21, 2012 5:08PM
Former Harvey School District 147 superintendant Alex Boyd | photo from Sun-Times Media photo file
Updated: September 23, 2012 6:20AM
The former superintendent of the cash-strapped West Harvey-Dixmoor School District 147 was ordered held in lieu of $150,000 bail Tuesday for allegedly bilking thousands of dollars from the district and spending the money on steak and seafood dinners for his colleagues and trips for their families — among other lavish items.
Before arriving at District 147, Alex Boyd was fired as superintendent of District 163 in Park Forest for allegedly converting his life insurance policy at the district’s expense and then borrowing on the new policy.
But that didn’t stop him from pulling the same stunt at District 147, which ended up costing the schools $78,000, Cook County prosecutors said.
Boyd, now 65, also sold back 574 days of vacation and sick days totaling $358,370 of payments that were never authorized by the District 147 board during his 11-year tenure, Assistant State’s Attorney Greg Ahern said.
Boyd, who taught afternoon classes at Concordia University and tennis lessons at a local club, also wracked up 220 doctor visits, including several that were out of state on consecutive days, Ahern said.
Boyd’s recent arrest on felony theft charges stems from a 2005 Illinois State Board of Education audit that revealed $2.3 million in unauthorized spending in the district, prosecutors said.
One of the red flags in the audit was the $57,000 Boyd, of Richton Park, allegedly spent at Jewel-Osco and restaurants and on formal wear, women’s apparel and alcohol, among other items.
Boyd, a married father of two, would also authorize payments for other board members to fly their families to seminars and for tickets to tours and concerts, Ahern said. He would also treat the board to expensive meals, Ahern said, adding that the “wining and dining” was carried out so Boyd’s colleagues would look the other way as he engaged in wrongdoing.
The ploy worked with the board president and board secretary Mable Chapman, of Harvey, who helped facilitate Boyd’s actions, Ahern said.
Chapman, 58, was also charged with theft but did not appear in court Tuesday, prompting Judge Thaddeus Wilson to issue a warrant for her arrest.
It was unclear whether Chapman and the board president, whom prosecutors said helped Boyd, were still involved with the schools.
Not all were in Boyd’s pocket, however, Ahern said.
Socrates Rivers, who was hired as the district’s business manager in 2010, wasn’t ready to hide what Boyd was doing and tried to blow the whistle, Ahern said. For that, Rivers was fired.
Rivers was unavailable for comment Tuesday afternoon.
Interim District 147 Supt. Lela Bridges would not comment on the allegations against Boyd and Chapman, only stressing that she and other district officials are cooperating with authorities.
In 2008, when the district was identified as the 15th-poorest in the state, Boyd talked to the Sun-Times about how his students were encouraged to rise above their circumstances.
“If you’re poor, you have to work harder. That’s the way life is; nothing is fair,” Boyd said at the time.
“Our job is to overcome poverty and help students realize that circumstances don’t dictate their future. We’re trying to teach kids that even though you are poor, you can learn to read, write, compute and cope with the world at large.”