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Press Release

Former Director of Operations of a Rockford Non-Profit Organization Charged with Fraud

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

ROCKFORD — LEILANI HILLIS, 60, of Rockford, the former director of operations of a Rockford non-profit organization, was charged today in federal court with one count of mail fraud and one count of tax fraud. 

Hillis was an employee of the non-profit organization since 2001.  During her employment, Hillis handled the organization’s payroll, human resource matters, accounting, and oversaw the annual audit.  As of 2009, Hillis had signatory authority on the organization’s bank account and access to the organization’s PayPal account. 

According to a criminal information, the organization issued employees a credit card in the employee’s name.  From 2009 through April 2018, Hillis schemed to enrich herself by using her employee-issued credit card to make more than $600,000 in unauthorized purchases for her personal benefit.  Hillis concealed her crime by using the organization’s accounting codes to make it appear the purchases were for the organization’s benefit, and she forged the initials of the organization’s president on the expense reports.  Hillis issued and signed checks from the organization’s account to the bank, knowing the payment included money to pay for the unauthorized purchases.  Hillis also did not report as income the money from the organization that she used to pay the organization’s credit card for her unauthorized personal purchases.

Each count of mail fraud carries a maximum potential penalty of up to 20 years in prison, and tax fraud carries a maximum potential penalty of up to three years in prison.  Each charge also carries a fine of up to $250,000, or twice the gross gain or gross loss resulting from that offense, whichever is greater, plus full restitution and a period of supervised release following imprisonment of up to five years.  If convicted, the Court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal sentencing statutes and the advisory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines. 

Hillis is scheduled to appear for arraignment before U.S. Magistrate Judge Iain D. Johnston on Dec. 19, 2018, at 9:30 a.m.

The public is reminded that an information contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt.  The defendant is presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

The charges were announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Jeffrey S. Sallet, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago office of Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Gabriel L. Grchan, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division in Chicago.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott R. Paccagnini.

Updated December 13, 2018

Financial Fraud