CPS' ex-chief of staff gets probation for lying to feds about bribes from Roberto Caldero

A former high-ranking Chicago Public Schools official was sentenced Thursday to probation for lying to the FBI about bribes he received from convicted political operative Roberto Caldero.

Pedro Soto, a former CPS chief of staff, was facing up to six months in prison after pleading guilty nearly three years ago.

But U.S. District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman handed down a lighter sentence of 18 months’ probation, citing Soto’s remorsefulness and cooperation with the feds.

"You were a public official. There’s higher expectations of you," Coleman said.

In court, Soto said he had a "lapse in judgment" when he lied to FBI agents who visited his home in 2019. He had denied giving inside information about a $1 billion custodial contract to Caldero.

But in fact, Caldero had bribed Soto with job offers, Champagne and admission to an annual museum benefit. In return, Soto gave him inside information from the evaluation committee that was examining contracts awarded under then-CPS CEO Forrest Claypool.


Soto, who was on the evaluation committee, gave higher scores to GCA Educational Services Central States Inc., the custodial company Caldero was trying to help. But CPS awarded the contract to another company.

"I apologize for my actions and promise I will never repeat them," Soto said in court, pausing several times as he choked up. "I accept full responsibility."

Soto, 48, rose through the ranks during his 22-year career at CPS, where he was responsible for bringing a STEM school to Pilsen, where he grew up, his attorney, Catharine D. O’Daniel, said.

Soto resigned from his CPS job in 2020 when he was reporting to CEO Janice Jackson.

Under the terms of Soto’s sentence, he must also pay a $3,000 fine and complete 100 hours of community service.

Caldero is scheduled to be sentenced in April. He pleaded guilty to wire fraud last year in a corruption case involving ex-Ald. Danny Solis (25th).