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Former Director for Chicago Black Nurses Association Pleads Guilty to Fraud Scheme

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 27, 2013

Springfield, Ill. – A former program director for the Chicago Chapter of the National Black Nurses Association, Margaret A. Davis, 62, entered pleas of guilty this afternoon to mail fraud and money laundering in a scheme that defrauded state grant programs from 2005 to 2009. Davis appeared before U.S. District Judge Sue E. Myerscough, who scheduled sentencing for July 22, 2013. According to terms of the conditional plea agreement, Davis faces a sentence of no more than 41 months in prison. Davis may also be ordered to pay restitution. Davis was allowed to remain on bond pending sentencing.

In court documents and during today’s hearing, Davis admitted that from December 2005 to June 2009, she solicited and received 15 different grants and contracts totaling $1,062,000 on behalf of the Chicago Chapter of the Black Nurses Association from Illinois state agencies including the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity; Department of Public Health; Department of Human Services; and the State Board of Education. Davis represented that the grant funds and contracts would be used to conduct numerous healthcare advocacy-related and nursing student assistance programs, including recruitment of 200 students from one Illinois senatorial district to participate in the “Young Enough to Make a Difference Project;” educational activities to promote public awareness of HIV/AIDS, breast and cervical cancer, prostate cancer, and pandemic flu; and, implementation of two nursing student internship programs.

Instead, Davis admitted that she, with the assistance of former chapter treasurer Tonja Cook, 45, commingled and converted a substantial amount of funds to Davis’s personal use and to Davis’s family members, friends and associates; to a not-for-profit healthcare advocacy organization known as the African American Aids Network, which Davis controlled; and, for the personal use and benefit of Cook.

Davis admitted that more than $200,000 in grant funds was converted to cash by cashing numerous checks at a currency exchange located near Davis’s residence. Further, Davis admitted that she caused more than $100,000 in grant funds to be made payable to AAAN by failing to disclose her interest in the organization to the State of Illinois, concealed the amount of grant and contract funds to be disbursed to AAAN, and forged the name of a co-signatory on AAAN bank account checks. Davis admitted that she deposited $125,000 in grant proceeds, converted to cash, into her personal bank account and used the funds for payment of personal expenses, including payments for her mortgage, utility and credit card expenses.

Sentencing for Cook is currently scheduled for Mar. 25, 2013; however, a motion to continue the sentencing date is pending. On Nov. 26, 2012, Cook entered a plea of guilty to a single count of mail fraud related to the scheme to defraud. Cook remains on bond pending sentencing.

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 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; and the Illinois Secretary of State Office of Inspector General. 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.

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