CHICAGO (AP) — The former head of Chicago Public Schools has apologized to students, their families and her former colleagues for her role in a kickback scheme.

Barbara Byrd-Bennett’s voice appeared to break as she spoke outside the federal courthouse in Chicago on Tuesday, shortly after pleading guilty to fraud.

Byrd-Bennett says she’s “terribly sorry,” and that children, their parents and educators “deserved much more… than I gave them.” Neither she nor her attorney took questions.

Prosecutors say she agreed to steer $23 million in no-bid contracts to education firms in exchange for $2.3 million in bribes and kickbacks.

The 66-year-old pleaded guilty to one count of fraud earlier Tuesday. The charge carries a maximum 20-year prison sentence, but prosecutors said they’d seek 7 ½ years in exchange for her guilty plea and cooperation.


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