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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Dakota, Illinois Man Sentenced To 56 Months In Federal Prison For Charity Fraud Scheme

ROCKFORD — A Dakota, Ill. man was sentenced yesterday afternoon to federal prison for conducting a scheme to defraud more than 3,600 victims out of more than $120,000 in charitable donations. Federal Judge Frederick J. Kapala sentenced CLIFFORD J. EDWARDS, JR., 34, (formerly of Dakota and Loves Park, Ill.) to 56 months in federal prison, to be followed by 3 years on supervised release. In addition, Edwards was sentenced to pay restitution of $122,468 to the victims of his scheme.

Edwards was indicted for mail fraud on June 18, 2013, and pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud on May 1, 2014. In pleading guilty, Edwards admitted to establishing and operating two alleged charities – Helping Out, LLC and Smiles for Kids Foundations. According to his guilty plea, Edwards established call centers for the two charities and hired employees to make unsolicited telemarketing type telephone calls. Edwards admitted that he and his employees would falsely tell victims that donations they contributed would be used to benefit children with cancer and under-privileged children. In pleading guilty, Edwards admitted that instead of using the monies he raised for children, he kept all of the funds and used them for his own personal expenses and to operate his two phony charitable organizations. The scheme to defraud lasted for 3 years, between June 2010 and June 2013.

The case was investigated by the United States Postal Inspection Service in Chicago.

The sentence was announced today by Zachary T. Fardon, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, and Tony Gomez, Inspector-in-Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service in Chicago.

The government was represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney John G. McKenzie.

Updated July 23, 2015