Charles Flowers, a former D209 board member, pleaded guilty to one count of felony theft of public funds on Dec. 8 after being charged with stealing money from the Cook County Regional Office of Education last May. He was sentenced to 18 months probation by Judge Arthur Hill, confirmed Cook County Asst. State’s Attorney Andy Conklin. Flowers paid back $16,000 as part of his sentence. He was a D209 board member from April 2005 to July 2007.

Cook County Sheriff’s police raided the Regional Office of Education in May 2010 and arrested Flowers, who was accused of hiring relatives, using office credit cards for cash advances and buying restaurant meals and airplane tickets to Mississippi for family members with state funds. Flowers also misdirected $340,000 in salaries to office employees meant for teacher workshops and professional meetings, according to a grand jury indictment. A county loan for $170,000 to the office was never repaid.

The Regional Office of Education in Westchester allegedly oversaw certification of teachers and substitutes, trained bus drivers and coordinated background checks. Gov. Patrick Quinn abolished the entire office 10 days after the raid.

-Jean Lotus