Former Suburban Chicago Police Chief Arrested
New Charges of Witness Tampering, Obstruction of Justice
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – The former police chief for Country Club Hills, Ill., was arrested on Friday, Mar. 15, 2013, and was ordered to remain in custody pending a court hearing scheduled on Monday, Mar. 25, 2013, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Byron Cudmore. Regina R. Evans, 50, was charged by federal criminal complaint with conspiracy to commit witness tampering and obstruction of justice as well as one count each of witness tampering and obstruction of justice. Evans appeared before Judge Cudmore late Friday, Mar. 15.
Evans and her husband, Ronald W. Evans Jr., 45, were previously charged in a second superseding indictment returned by the grand jury on Feb. 2, 2013, in which both Regina and Ronald were charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and three counts of wire fraud and two counts of money laundering. The indictment alleges the couple defrauded a grant program administered by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO.) The indictment alleges the couple fraudulently used the $1,250,000 awarded in 2009 under the Employment Opportunities Grant Program. The February 2013 indictment superseded an indictment returned in June 2012, which charged Ronald as well as his wife, who was initially indicted in April 2012, charged with mail fraud and two counts of money laundering.
The affidavit filed in support of the recent criminal complaint alleges that Evans directed a witness to give false testimony in the continuation of the investigation involving uncharged persons and offenses. According to the affidavit, as part of an ongoing grand jury investigation, and following the grand jury return of the superseding indictment in June 2012, investigators identified and obtained evidence of potential uncharged money laundering offenses related to bank and bank transaction records associated with an Evans bank account for We Are Our Brothers Keeper grant funds. Records revealed that between Nov. 1, 2009 and Dec. 31, 2009, a total of more than $90,000 in checks was allegedly issued to associates of the Evanses. More than $50,000 was allegedly cashed at the bank where a grant account was held and proceeds of a check to an associate were converted to cash and allegedly deposited back into an account controlled by the Evanses.
The affidavit details various testimony provided by a close associate of Regina Evans. The associate, identified as “Individual A” in the affidavit was interviewed by law enforcement at various times, beginning on Mar. 23, 2012, and testified before the grand jury in February 2013.
In early February 2013, “Individual A” was interviewed again and admitted that “A” did no training for the grant program and that at Regina Evans’ direction, checks were cashed and the money was returned to Evans. Further, the affidavit alleges that Regina instructed “Individual A” to tell investigators that “A” received the checks for teaching ‘soft skills’ classes and that “A” used the money to pay bills.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy A. Bass is prosecuting the cases on behalf of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of Illinois. The ongoing 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. The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Development is also cooperating in the investigation. 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.
According to the second superseding indictment, at the time of the alleged fraud, from February 2009 to June 2010, Regina and Ronald Evans owned various for-profit and not-for-profit entities, including the Prime Time Group, Inc., the Regal Theater, LLC. and We Are Our Brother’s Keeper (WAOBK.) In February 2009, on behalf of WAOBK, Evans and her husband applied for grant funding offered under the Employment Opportunities Grant Program. The grant agreement provided for an estimated 40 project participants to focus on bricklaying and electrical pre-apprenticeship training and GED preparation, and a project location at the Regal Theater. In September 2009, DCEO disbursed the $1,250,000 award for the two-year period, beginning on June 1, 2009, and ending on May 31, 2011.
In fact, according to the indictment, both Regina and Ronald Evans well knew that little, if any, of the EOGP training would be or was completed. Instead, the indictment alleges that the defendants concealed their true financial status and that of their various business interests from DCEO and their intent to use a substantial portion of the grant funds shortly after their disbursement for repayment of indebtedness, including delinquent mortgage indebtedness for the Regal Theater.
If convicted, the offense of conspiracy to commit witness tampering and obstruction of justice carries a statutory penalty of up to five years in prison; for witness tampering the penalty is up to 20 years in prison; and for obstruction of justice, the penalty is up to 10 years in prison. If convicted of any of these charged offenses, the penalty is served consecutive to any sentence ordered for the underlying offense.
Members of the public are reminded that a complaint and indictment are merely accusations; the defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty.