A former City Colleges of Chicago professor falsified a doctoral degree to pocket hundreds of thousands of dollars in fraudulent pay, Cook County prosecutors said Wednesday.
Carol Howley, a nursing professor at Richard J. Daley College, was indicted on charges of theft of government property for allegedly pretending to be enrolled in doctoral classes at Rush University when she was hired in 1995. Two years later, she falsely claimed to have earned the doctorate and provided a forged transcript detailing the courses she claimed to have taken, prosecutors said Wednesday.
With pay based in part on educational experience, Howley was overpaid by $307,000, according to the charges.
The theft came to light when a Colorado employer considering whether to hire Howley tried to verify her doctoral degree, according to John A. Gasiorowski, the inspector general for City Colleges.
Rush told Daley College it didn't have any records of Howley ever attending the school, prompting the inspector general's office to investigate. The probe uncovered that Howley lied about graduating with the doctorate in January 1997 and had never enrolled in the school's doctoral program.
"Rush told us, 'We don't even have graduation in January,'" Gasiorowski said.
Gasiorowski said Howley attempted to resign in December 2010, but that the City Colleges' board of trustees fired her in February 2011 based on his office's findings.
Howley, 64, who now lives in Fort Collins, Colo., couldn't be reached for comment. A spokeswoman for State's Attorney Anita Alvarez said the department is working with authorities in Colorado to bring the former professor to Cook County.
At a news conference, Alvarez also announced indictments against two former Chicago Public Schools employees and a former City Colleges official.
Sonia Lopez, 49, who worked as a teaching assistant and treasurer at Marshall Middle School, was charged with theft after she allegedly wrote 14 unauthorized checks to herself for more than $21,000 and took an additional $3,000 from student fees and payments, Alvarez said.
Louis James, 58, a former manager of sports administration for CPS, was accused of stealing $9,000 and using the money to buy sparkling wine, flowers, chocolates, condoms and a king-size mattress at Costco. He was indicted on charges of theft and official misconduct.
Natatia Trotter-Gordon, 43, a former director of business and industry at Kennedy-King College who coordinated a conversational Spanish program for employees at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, was charged with forgery for allegedly stealing more than $51,000. The scheme was uncovered after the hospital notified the school that Trotter-Gordon requested that she personally pick up the payments instead of mailing them to the school, authorities said.