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Press Release

Former Illinois State Representative Connie Howard Sentenced for Fraud Scheme

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Central District of Illinois


Springfield, Ill. – U.S. District Judge Richard Mills today sentenced former Illinois State Representative Constance ‘Connie’ Howard to three months in prison for fraud committed by Howard when she was a state representative. Following her release from the federal Bureau of Prisons, Howard, 72, was ordered to serve three months home confinement, the first three months of a two-year term of supervised release. Howard was also ordered to pay restitution to two organizations:  $15,900 to the Chicago Urban League and $12,450 to the Black United Fund, Chicago.

In July 2013, Howard waived indictment and admitted that from 2003 to 2007, she solicited and obtained approximately $76,700, representing that the funds would be used to provide scholarships. In fact, no more than five scholarships, totaling $12,500, were issued, and approximately $28,000 of the funds raised was converted to her personal and political use. Misuse of the funds included expenses associated with the promotion of her campaign, and campaign events, and to benefit one of her assistants.

At the time of the fraud, Howard was a member of the Illinois House of Representatives. She served as Chairwoman of the Computer Technology Committee for the House of Representatives and the Eliminate the Digital Divide Advisory Committee of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.  Howard’s legislative and campaign offices were located in Chicago.

In 2003, Howard created an organization known as “Tee Off for Technology,” (TOFT), and established the “Constance A ‘Connie’ Howard Computer Technology Scholarship Fund, to provide scholarships to persons in need seeking a degree in computer science and related fields.  Howard established an annual event in July 2003, known as the “Tee Off for Technology Celebrity Golf Outing.”  Howard represented that the purpose of the organization and the annual golf outing was to be a fundraising mechanism for the scholarship fund.  Because TOFT was not a tax-exempt organization, it partnered with tax-exempt organizations to serve as its fiscal agent to ensure that donations to TOFT and the scholarship fund were tax deductible. 

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.

Updated December 8, 2015

Public Corruption