Former Director And Treasurer Of Chicago Black Nurses Association Sentenced For Fraud Scheme
Springfield, Ill. – Both a former program director and treasurer of the Chicago Chapter of the National Black Nurses Association have been sentenced to prison terms for their respective roles in a scheme that defrauded state grant programs of at least $377,573, from 2005 to 2009. On Oct. 8, 2013, U.S. District Judge Sue E. Myerscough sentenced Margaret A. Davis, former association director, to 41 months (3 years, 5 months) in prison and ordered that Davis pay restitution in the amount of $377,573. On Oct. 15, 2013, Tonja Cook, former treasurer, was sentenced to 19 months (1 year, 7 months) in prison and to pay restitution in the amount of $137,111. Both women were ordered to report to the federal Bureau of Prisons on Jan. 2, 2014.
Davis, 62, pled guilty on Feb. 27, 2013, to mail fraud and money laundering in the scheme that defrauded state grant programs from 2005 to 2009. Cook, 46, pled guilty on Nov. 26, 2012, to one count of mail fraud for her role in assisting Davis in the scheme.
In court documents and during Davis’s sentencing hearing, the government presented evidence that established that Davis, with Cook’s assistance, commingled and converted a substantial amount of grant funds to her personal use, to the use and benefit of her family and friends, and to the use and benefit of public officials and political organizations. Davis also used grant funds to support a not-for-profit healthcare advocacy organization known as the African American Aids Network, which Davis controlled. Cook also received some funds which she used for her personal expenses and benefit.
From December 2005 to June 2009, Davis 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. The grants were purportedly to provide funds for 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.
Davis converted more than $200,000 in grant funds to cash at a currency exchange located near her residence. More than $100,000 in grant funds were made payable to her organization, the African American Aids Network, although Davis failed to disclose her interest in the organization to the State of Illinois, concealed the amount of grant and contract funds to be disbursed, and forged the name of a co-signatory on the organization’s bank account checks.
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. The investigation was 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.