Superintendent charged with felonies

DISTRICT 168 Thomas E. Ryan being held in Cook County Jail
2005-08-24T00:00:00Z Superintendent charged with feloniesJOAN CARREON
Times Correspondent
August 24, 2005 12:00 am  • 

MARKHAM | Calling it "worst case of financial fraud by a public official" he has seen, the Cook County state's attorney accused Sauk Village Elementary District 168 Superintendent Thomas E. Ryan of stealing from those he was supposed to serve.

"Thomas Ryan was a reverse Robin Hood, stealing from the poor children in his district to line his own pockets, spending money on himself, his family and his friends," Richard A. Devine said during a news conference Tuesday announcing nine felony charges against Ryan.

A week after being placed on paid administrative leave, Ryan now sits in Cook County Jail. He turned himself in Monday.

He is charged with the theft of more than $100,000 in school funds, a Class X felony punishable by up to 30 years in prison if he is convicted. He also is charged with intimidation, communication with a witness, harassment of a witness, obstruction of justice, bribery, and official misconduct.

The charges are the result of a continuing investigation into District 168 spending.

Devine said Ryan's lawyers indicated he would submit his resignation as District 168 superintendent Tuesday. As of Tuesday afternoon, district officials said they had not yet received any official resignation letter from Ryan.

Ryan's attorneys could not be reached for comment.

Investigators last week raided Ryan's Orland Park home and seized $730,000 in cash, among other items. The cash was found in a safe in the basement and in envelopes throughout the house, Devine said.

"We allege that Ryan pilfered approximately $70,000 to pay for the college education of his three daughters between 1997 and 2005. Some of the money he stole was intended to pay teachers to tutor underachieving children after school hours. He also bullied subordinates to doctor paperwork to cloak his financial high jinks," Devine said during a press conference.

Dressed in a gray suit and light blue shirt, the 53-year-old Ryan stood before Judge Thomas Panichi with his hands behind his back during a bond hearing Tuesday morning in the Cook County Circuit Court Sixth District Courthouse in Markham.

His attorneys agreed he could be held without bail until his next scheduled court date Sept. 13. But they also said they do not concede any of the allegations against him.

Ryan has served as District 168 superintendent since 1989. The School Board Aug. 17 put Ryan on paid leave for 90 days or until the resolution of the investigation.

Prosecutors maintain the investigation is "far from over" and say more charges will follow in the coming months.

The investigation was prompted by concerns cited by auditors last August.

Ryan is the second District 168 official charged.

On Aug. 16, former School Board President Louise Morales was indicted on charges of theft, misapplication of funds and official misconduct. Her arraignment is scheduled for Sept. 1. She resigned her board position last month.

Morales is accused of authorizing checks to be drawn on school district funds to Ryan's children upon their graduation from college, as well as funds to be given to people she believed to be in need.

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