Chicago Woman Convicted Of Money Laundering, Making False Statements To Law Enforcement And Federal Grand Jury
Springfield, Ill. – A jury in Springfield, Ill., deliberated for less than two hours this evening before returning guilty verdicts on all counts against Jeri L. Wright, 48, of Hazel Crest, Ill. Wright was convicted of money laundering, making false statements to federal law enforcement officers, and giving false testimony before a grand jury, related to an ongoing investigation of fraudulent use of Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity grant funds. Sentencing is scheduled on July 7, 2014, before U.S. District Judge Sue E. Myerscough.
During the trial, which began on Mar. 4, the government presented evidence that Wright participated in a fraud scheme led by her friend, former Country Club Hills, Ill., police chief Regina Evans, and then repeatedly lied about her involvement to law enforcement and a federal grand jury.
Evans is scheduled for sentencing on Mar. 24, 2014, after pleading guilty to wire fraud, money laundering, witness tampering, and obstruction of justice, related to a $1.25 million state grant awarded in 2009 to We Are Our Brother’s Keeper, a not-for-profit program that Evans owned with her husband, Ronald W. Evans, Jr. Ronald Evans has also pleaded guilty to the fraud scheme and is scheduled to be sentenced on Apr. 21, 2014. The grant agreement was purportedly to provide bricklaying and electrical pre-apprenticeship training and GED preparation, at the Regal Theater, another entity owned by the Evanses. In fact, little, if any, of the training provided in the grant agreement was ever completed.
“Jeri Wright chose to participate in the fraud, chose to receive and launder a portion of the proceeds of the fraud, and chose to repeatedly lie to law enforcement and a federal grand jury,” said Jim Lewis, U.S. Attorney for the Central District of Illinois. “If you take and misuse government money, and then lie about it, you will be held accountable in a court of law.”
U.S. Attorney Lewis further expressed his appreciation to the federal law enforcement officers assigned and the agencies who support the Central District of Illinois U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Public Corruption Task Force: Tony Gomez, Postal Inspector in Charge, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Chicago Division; James Lee, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation, Chicago Field Office; and Jim Burns, Inspector General, Illinois Secretary of State Office of Inspector General. 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.
At sentencing, the maximum statutory penalty for each of the counts against Wright is money laundering (two counts), up to 20 years in prison, and a fine of up to $500,000 or twice the value of the transactions, whichever is greater; and for making false statements to federal law enforcement officers (two counts) and giving false testimony before a grand jury (seven counts), the statutory penalty is up to five years in prison.