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Grant probe is “not over”

Friday, May 2, 2014

* Tribune

The former police chief of County Club Hills was sentenced Thursday to five years in prison for diverting $917,000 from a state job-training grant to help remodel her home, travel to Las Vegas and distribute cash to her family and friends.

Regina Evans, 51, tearfully begged U.S. District Judge Sue Myerscough to not “take my life away,” before the sentence was handed down. Federal prosecutors had sought a prison sentence of more than 10 years.

After the hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Bass said the investigation that led to Evans conviction and has also taken down former state Rep. Connie Howard, Jeri Wright, the daughter of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and a top state public health official, is ongoing.

“It’s not over,” Bass said.

* More on that last line from the Sun-Times

Without naming names, [Evans’ lawyer, Lawrence Beaumont] lashed out at the prosecution during the hearing, accusing the government of having a “misguided vendetta” against her. He said she “made telephone calls” and wore a wire on behalf of the government in pursuit of other targets, but she didn’t deliver any prized political pelts sought by prosecutors.

“In my humble opinion, part of the prosecution in this case had some kind of vendetta against her because she refused to cooperate or didn’t cooperate the way they felt she should against some political people in Chicago. They seem to want to take that out on her, which in my opinion is inappropriate,” Beaumont said.

During testimony in her two-day sentencing hearing, U.S. Postal Inspector Basil Demczak indicated the government criminal investigation into grant fraud at the Department of Commerce and Opportunity remains ongoing.

Asked later to clarify those remarks, Bass said, “I can only speak for what’s in the record. Again, what’s in the record is what Inspector Demczak testified to, and that is this case arose from an investigation of DCEO’s employment opportunity grant program that was targeted at helping underrepresented persons, underprivileged minority persons in the Chicago-area community.

“The investigation involved not just looking at Ms. Evans as one grantee but the entire program and whether or not other persons, other grantees, or other public officials had engaged in any wrongdoing. Inspector Demczak testified that investigation is ongoing,” Bass said, declining to name any targets.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


15 Comments
  1. - OneMan - Friday, May 2, 14 @ 10:08 am:

    Awaiting Panda Protect Act announcement in 3..2…1


  2. - AFSCME Steward - Friday, May 2, 14 @ 10:22 am:

    “In my humble opinion, part of the prosecution in this case had some kind of vendetta against her because she refused to cooperate or didn’t cooperate the way they felt she should against some political people in Chicago. They seem to want to take that out on her, which in my opinion is inappropriate,” Beaumont said.”

    I wonder what Beaumont would feel is appropriate for someone who stole over $900,000 from the taxpayers & doesn’t seem all that contrite.


  3. - Walker - Friday, May 2, 14 @ 10:23 am:

    ==”Former police chief”==

    Is no one immune to this idea that they are entitled to public funds for personal use? This is just part of the overall compensation for the job?

    It isn’t the majority of public officials. But there is indeed a long-standing “sub-culture of corruption,” that some participate in, and it won’t be stifled just by a series of convictions.


  4. - RonOglesby - Friday, May 2, 14 @ 10:40 am:

    A lot of times getting a better sentence is due to actual HELP in getting the bigger fish. Just making some calls or wearing a wire but not producing isnt going to get you any help.


  5. - Langhorne - Friday, May 2, 14 @ 10:41 am:

    there seems to be a lack of oversight. you write up a grant proposal, get political backing, the check arrives, and it seems like free money. rent a store front, hire friends and relatives. its easy.
    too easy, so people get lazy and dont even do the minimum to justify the cash.

    then the day of reckoning arrives. there is that pesky perjury stmt on all the vouchers, right above your signature. it says you promise everything is hunky dory. except for the $900,000 siphoned off.


  6. - VanillaMan - Friday, May 2, 14 @ 10:47 am:

    A society thriving and supporting entitlements, naturally begins to believe that all public money is their entitlement.


  7. - wordslinger - Friday, May 2, 14 @ 12:20 pm:

    –A society thriving and supporting entitlements, naturally begins to believe that all public money is their entitlement.–

    Or, it could just be a crooked cop stealing money and not being very good or discreet at it.


  8. - A guy... - Friday, May 2, 14 @ 12:32 pm:

    Or a statewide environment where discretion wasn’t even a consideration.


  9. - Formerly Known As... - Friday, May 2, 14 @ 12:38 pm:

    The week started with Todd Stroger’s former Deputy Chief of Staff and ends with a former police chief.

    These convictions are turning into a weekly event and then some.


  10. - Liandro - Friday, May 2, 14 @ 1:16 pm:

    - Formerly Known As… - Friday, May 2, 14 @ 12:38 pm:

    “The week started with Todd Stroger’s former Deputy Chief of Staff and ends with a former police chief.

    These convictions are turning into a weekly event and then some.”

    Hence Illinois’ position at/near the bottom of trust in government, and the subsequent bleed-over into general (un)happiness with the state itself. Tough to be proud when every week produces this stuff–and it’s our tax money being used.

    Opponents of the tax hike should just make commercials dramatically listing all the corruption, jailed politicians, and wasted tax money. Be specific. Then end the commercials with something to the effect of: Had enough yet? Insert names of tax supporters as necessary in different races.


  11. - In Tent City - Friday, May 2, 14 @ 1:22 pm:

    U.S. Postal Inspector Basil Demczak was part of the team that did the dogged investigaton of George Ryan, et al. He also testified before Patrick Collins Reform Commission. This is a guy who knows how the seemy side of Illinois Government works and knows how to use the tools of federal law enforcement to get the underlings to talk and the middle men to plea while going after the big fish.
    No, this is not over. In a lot of ways its only starting.


  12. - wordslinger - Friday, May 2, 14 @ 1:45 pm:

    –Or a statewide environment where discretion wasn’t even a consideration.–

    Oh, it should be, if you want to stay out of prison. They’ve been racking them up pretty good in the Northern District for many years now.


  13. - A guy... - Friday, May 2, 14 @ 2:27 pm:

    === wordslinger - Friday, May 2, 14 @ 1:45 pm:

    –Or a statewide environment where discretion wasn’t even a consideration.–

    Oh, it should be, if you want to stay out of prison. They’ve been racking them up pretty good in the Northern District for many years now.===

    Think we’d agree they’ve got plenty of “racking” left to do.


  14. - Formerly Known As... - Friday, May 2, 14 @ 3:16 pm:

    Liandro - I like it.


  15. - wordslinger - Friday, May 2, 14 @ 3:56 pm:

    –Think we’d agree they’ve got plenty of “racking” left to do.–

    The point I’m making is that we’re in the era of Big Heat. The U.S, Attorney is more than willing to shoot fish in a barrel.

    But consider “the good old days.” Pat Marcy, the D’Arcos and Fred Roti held court every day at the same table at “Counselor’s Row,” selling all kinds of things.

    They did it for decades. Everyone knew what they were doing. But it took decades for government to even put a wire on them.


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