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Former Suburban Chicago Police Chief Charged With Fraud Related To $1.25 Million Grant - More than $500,000 Allegedly Used for Personal Expenses

April 20, 2012

Springfield, Ill. – A woman who previously served as police chief for Country Club Hills, Ill., Regina R. Evans, 49, has been charged with defrauding a grant program administered by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO.) The grand jury indictment charges Evans with one count of mail fraud and two counts of money laundering related to her alleged fraudulent use of $1,250,000, which was awarded in 2009 under the Employment Opportunities Grant Program.

The indictment was returned by the grand jury in Springfield on April 4; however, it remained sealed pending Evans’ court appearance following her self-surrender today in federal court before U.S. Magistrate Judge Byron Cudmore in Springfield. An initial trial date has been scheduled for June 5, 2012, before U.S. District Judge Sue E. Myerscough.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy A. Bass is prosecuting the case on behalf of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of Illinois. The ongoing investigation is being conducted by participating agencies of the Central District of Illinois’ U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Public Corruption Task Force including the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Chicago Division; the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigations; the Illinois Secretary of State Office of Inspector General; and, the Illinois State Police Division of Internal Investigation. The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Development is also cooperating in the investigation. Individuals who wish to provide information to law enforcement regarding matters of public corruption are urged to call the U.S. Attorney’s Office at 217-492-4450.

According to the indictment, at the time of the alleged fraud, from February 2009 to June 2010, Evans and another individual owned various for-profit and not-for-profit entities, including the Prime Time Group, Inc., the Regal Theater, LLC., and We Are Our Brother’s Keeper (WAOBK.) In February 2009, on behalf of WAOBK, Evans and another individual applied for grant funding offered under the Employment Opportunities Grant Program. The grant agreement provided for an estimated 40 project participants to focus on bricklaying and electrical pre-apprenticeship training and GED preparation, and a project location at the Regal Theater. In September 2009, DCEO disbursed the $1,250,000 award for the two-year period, beginning on June 1, 2009, and ending on May 31, 2011.

In fact, according to the indictment, Evans well knew that little, if any, of the EOGP training would be or was completed. Instead, the indictment alleges that Evans concealed her true financial status and that of her various business interests from DCEO and her intent to use a substantial portion of the grant funds shortly after their disbursement for repayment of indebtedness, including delinquent mortgage indebtedness for the Regal Theater. Within six months of the grant disbursement, the indictment alleges that Evans caused the $1.25 million to be deposited into six separate accounts at the same financial institution, including $500,000 or more which was converted to the personal use and benefit of Evans, businesses owned by Evans, including The Prime Time Group, Inc. and The Regal Theater, LLC, and to the use and benefit of Evans’s family members, friends and associates.

As alleged in the indictment, Evans failed to establish an accurate, current and complete disclosure of the financial results of the grant project and failed to cooperate with the DCEO in its grant monitoring process.

If convicted, the offense of mail fraud carries a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. For each of the two counts of engaging in a money laundering transaction, the maximum statutory penalty is up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 or up to twice the amount of the criminally derived property involved in the transaction, whichever is greater.

The government did not seek the defendant’s detention at today’s hearing and Evans was released on a $10,000 recognizance bond.

Members of the public are reminded that an indictment is merely an accusation; the defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty.

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