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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Central District of Illinois

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, July 9, 2015

Chicago Woman Sentenced to Two Years in Prison for Money Laundering, False Statements to Law Enforcement and Federal Grand Jury

Springfield, Ill. – A Chicago woman has been ordered to serve two years in federal prison for her role in a state grant fraud scheme and for repeatedly making false statements to federal agents and the grand jury investigating the scheme. Jeri L. Wright, 49, of Hazel Crest, Ill., appeared today before U.S. District Judge Sue E. Myerscough in Springfield.  Wright was also ordered to serve three years on supervised release following her release from prison, the first six months of which are to be served as home confinement with electronic monitoring. Wright was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $31,821 to the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.

Following today’s hearing, Wright was remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service. Wright has remained in law enforcement custody since Feb. 23, 2015, when Judge Myerscough revoked Wright’s personal recognizance bond upon finding probable cause that Wright had participated in an unrelated payroll fraud scheme involving an Indiana employment agency while on bond.

On Mar. 7, 2014, a jury convicted Wright on all counts charged in the indictment:  money laundering (two counts); making false statements to federal law enforcement officers (two counts); and giving false testimony before a grand jury (seven counts), related to an investigation of fraudulent use of Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity grant funds.  At trial, the government presented evidence that Wright participated in a fraud scheme led by her friend, former Country Club Hills, Ill., police chief Regina Evans, that misused a $1.25 million grant awarded in 2009 to We Are Our Brother’s Keeper, a not-for-profit program owned and operated by Regina Evans and her husband, Ronald Evans.  Wright was also convicted for making false statements to law enforcement during interviews in 2012 and to a federal grand jury in November 2012.

Regina Evans pled guilty to the fraud scheme and was sentenced on May 1, 2014, to 60 months in prison; Ronald Evans pled guilty and was sentenced on July 25, 2014, to 12 months in prison followed by six months home confinement.  The couple was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $917,194.  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.

The investigation was conducted by federal law enforcement officers and  agencies that support the Central District of Illinois U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Public Corruption Task Force:  U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Chicago Division; Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division, Chicago Field Office; the Illinois Secretary of State Office of Inspector General; and, Illinois State Police, Division of Internal Investigations.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy A. Bass prosecuted the case on behalf of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of Illinois.

Updated July 13, 2015