Former Lincoln-Way High School District 210 Superintendent Lawrence Wyllie, whose federal fraud trial was postponed last fall and has yet to be rescheduled, draws more than $900 daily in pension income as he awaits his day in court.
The 81-year-old Naperville resident, who was charged in September 2017 with misusing millions of dollars in bond money and misappropriating school district funds for his own personal benefit, has received nearly $600,000 in pension income since being indicted, according to Teachers’ Retirement System documents obtained by the Daily Southtown in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.
Wyllie, who retired in 2013 with 56 years of service time, earns one of the largest pensions in the TRS system, records show.
He is set to take home $340,191 in pension income this year and has received nearly $1.85 million from the state pension system in the five-plus years since he retired.
Wyllie, who served as Lincoln-Way’s superintendent from 1989 until his retirement in 2013, is accused of misleading his school board, bond purchasers and the public about his use of district bond proceeds in an effort to conceal the district’s true financial health.
He retired almost two years before Lincoln-Way’s dire financial situation came to light in 2015, when the high-performing district appeared on the State Board of Education’s financial watch list and board members voted to close Lincoln-Way North High School in Frankfort, which had opened only seven years earlier after voters approved a $225 million bond referendum to fund the construction of two new high schools.
Rather than using millions of dollars in 2009 district bond proceeds for capital expenditures, as approved and intended, Wyllie instead used at least $7 million of the funds to cover the district’s general operating expenses, including at least $1 million for employee payroll, prosecutors charged.
He also is accused of misappropriating school district funds and resources for personal projects that did not benefit the school district, including using at least $50,000 to build and operate Superdog, a dog obedience training school that his successor, Scott Tingley, has said had “no student benefit.”
In addition to misusing district money, federal prosecutors also allege Wyllie illegally pocketed more than $30,000 in unused vacation days and a retirement bonus.
He returned the $16,500 bonus in May 2018, records show, writing in a letter to district officials that he had been “under the honest, but mistaken, belief” that he was entitled to the money.
After four years on the state’s financial watch list, Lincoln-Way High School District 210 was upgraded in March to “Financial Early Warning” status.
In a statement, Lincoln-Way officials attributed the improvement to the district’s consecutive years of budget surplus and the “vision and direction of the Board of Education and the district financial team.”