Fraud case against ex-Lincoln-Way schools leader marks 6 years and no trial

Former Lincoln-Way High School District 210 Superintendent Lawrence Wyllie displays renderings of the Lincoln-Way North High School building April 12, 2008, in Frankfort. Wyllie has faced federal fraud charges for more than three years.

A 2017 federal fraud case against the former superintendent of Lincoln-Way District 210 has lasted more than six years and may enter its seventh year with no sign of a trial or any other resolution in sight.

On Monday, both parties in the case against Lawrence Wyllie, 85, once again reported he cannot “meaningfully participate in his own defense” because of his “serious and ongoing medical conditions,” according to a joint status report. Neither federal prosecutors nor Wyllie’s defense attorneys have ever disclosed what is ailing the retired superintendent.

Both parties also reported – as they have for many years – they are “not yet in a position to determine how this case will ultimately proceed.”

The parties requested U.S. Judge Elaine Bucklo set a new status hearing for Jan. 16 or another date during that week.

“At that time, the parties hope to be better positioned to address the court’s inquiry as to how this case will proceed,” the joint status report said.

Wyllie was charged Sept. 13, 2017, with wire fraud and theft in an indictment that accused him of causing the district to assume $7 million in additional debt, misusing at least $80,000 in district funds for his own personal benefit and concealing the financial health of the district.

Wyllie also was accused of using $50,000 in district funds, including bond funds, to build and operate Superdog, a dog obedience school at North school. Prosecutors said Superdog provided no benefit to the district.

The case against Wyllie has lasted at least six years as of Monday. The case may last for a seventh year or longer if it is not resolved.

Wyllie continues to collect his pension income from the Teachers’ Retirement System of the State of Illinois. He could lose that pension if convicted of the charges against him.

In 2019, Wyllie’s annual pension income was about $340,191. In 2020, that increased to about $350,397 and then to $360,909 in 2021.

Under Wyllie, two more schools at District 210 – North and West – were built in the late 2000s to meet projected growth in student population that never actually occurred. The construction of the schools was financed by $225 million in bonds.

When board members decided in a 5-2 vote in 2015 to close North school, they blamed the district’s financial crisis on low state funding and a housing market crippled by the 2007 Great Recession.

The board members later acknowledged the true condition of District 210 was masked by improper accounting and alleged that Wyllie took unauthorized actions over the district’s finances.