CHICAGO (AP) — The former CEO of Chicago Public Schools was indicted on corruption charges Thursday in an alleged bribery and kickback scheme to steer $20 million worth of no-bid contracts to education companies.

In this Oct. 12, 2012 file photo, Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett speaks at a news conference in Chicago. The former CEO has been indicted on corruption charges following a federal investigation into a $20 million no-bid contract. Bennett was indicted Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015, nearly four months after she resigned amid an investigation into the contract between the district and SUPES Academy, a training academy where she once worked as a consultant. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green, File)

In this Oct. 12, 2012 file photo, Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett speaks at a news conference in Chicago. The former CEO has been indicted on corruption charges following a federal investigation into a $20 million no-bid contract. Bennett was indicted Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015, nearly four months after she resigned amid an investigation into the contract between the district and SUPES Academy, a training academy where she once worked as a consultant. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green, File)

Barbara Byrd-Bennett was indicted about four months after she resigned amid the investigation into the contract that was between the district and SUPES Academy, a training academy where she once worked as a consultant. She was appointed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel to lead the nation’ third-largest school district in 2012.

Byrd-Bennett, 66, of Solon, Ohio, is charged with 15 counts of mail fraud and five counts of wire fraud in the indictment. If convicted, she could face a maximum 20-year prison sentence on each count.

Phone and email messages seeking comment from Byrd-Bennett and the mayor’s office weren’t immediately returned. A school district spokeswoman didn’t immediately have comment.

The indictment comes at a critical time for the district, which faces a severe budget shortfall and a severely underfunded pension system. Contract negotiations with the powerful Chicago Teachers Union have been tense: Teachers went on strike for the first time in 25 years during the last round of negotiations.

Byrd-Bennett, a longtime educator, took a paid leave of absence in April following reports that federal investigators were looking into the contract. The academy, which trains principals, turned over records to investigators, who also asked for documents from Byrd-Bennett and other employees. CPS suspended its contract with SUPES and confirmed it had been subpoenaed.

A federal investigation followed a tough re-election bid for Emanuel, who spent much of his time on the campaign trail defending his decision to close numerous schools and to choose Byrd-Bennett to lead the district of about 400,000 students. Her annual salary was $250,000.

Among the most scrutinized moves was a 2013 push to close dozens of neighborhood schools. During the campaign, Emanuel said it was a tough, but necessary decision to improve school achievement, and that he was proud of his choice of Byrd-Bennett.

SUPES Academy and a related company also in the Chicago suburbs, Synesi Associates LLC, are also named in the indictment, as are their respective owners, Gary Soloman and Thomas Vranas. Both men are charged with bribery and conspiracy to defraud, along with mail and wire fraud.

Soloman’s attorney released a statement saying Soloman and his companies have cooperated with investigators. The statement said Soloman was aware that the charges would be announced Thursday and that he’s disappointed with the government’s decision to charge him.

Phones messages seeking comment from Vranas and his attorney weren’t immediately returned.

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