Federal Probe Into State Grant Awards Nets 13 Indictments, $16 Million Embezzled

By aaroncynic in News on Sep 9, 2013 7:15PM

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Former state Rep. Connie Howard.
Thirteen people have been charged in an ongoing investigation by the U.S. Attorney's office in Springfield into fraud within the now-shuttered state grant program. Six of those charged have pleaded guilty in various schemes involving state health or commerce department grants totaling some $16 million. Two have connections to associates or former associates of President Barack Obama

Jeri L. Wright, daughter of President Obama's former pastor Jeremiah Wright, is accused of money laundering and making false statements to a grand jury. Wright has ties to former Country Club Hills Police Chief Regina Evans who was charged with conspiracy, wire fraud and money laundering along with her husband Ronald. The pair admitted to spending half of a $1.25 million Commerce Department grant paying down personal debt and on personal gifts. Wright’s trial is set for Oct. 16, and the Evans’ are awaiting sentencing.

Also on trial in October is Quinshaunta R. Golden, former Illinois Department of Public Health chief of staff. Golden was working for Eric E. Whitaker, a long time friend of the President’s, when authorities say she embezzled $433,000 in health department contracts. Golden is also the niece of Rep. Danny K. Davis.

The Sun-Times has a full breakdown of the investigations here.

Also accused of embezzlement are Margaret A. Davis and Tonja Cook, of the Chicago chapter of the National Black Nurses Association. They were accused of using $500,000 in grant money for personal use. Cook alleges some of the money was also used to pay campaign workers for former state Sen. Rickey Hendon. Hendon resigned in 2011 but has not been charged with any wrongdoing. Davis and Cook will be sentenced next month.

Former state Rep. Connie Howard, who resigned last year as investigators began sniffing around her AIDS awareness organization, pleaded guilty to mail fraud in July and will be sentenced Nov. 21.