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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, November 1, 2019

Alleged Corruption At East St.Louis Non-Profit Leads to Three New Federal Indictments

An ongoing federal investigation into corruption and self-dealing at an East St. Louis charity has 
resulted in new charges being filed against three people. Leonard Johnson, 33, of St. Louis, 
Missouri, Jeremy Turner, 31, of Dallas, Texas, and Tiffany Taylor, 37, of Maryville, Illinois, are 
all under separate federal indictment for crimes associated with the Lessie Bates Davis 
Neighborhood House (“Neighborhood House”), a non-profit organization in East St. Louis that 
receives federal funds.

The indictments come just two months after Christopher Coleman, the former executive director of 
Neighborhood House, pleaded guilty to embezzling over $250,000 from the organization in 2016 and 
2017. Coleman, 42, of Troy, Illinois, is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 19, 2019, at the federal 
courthouse in Benton, Illinois.

Johnson and Turner are both charged with aiding and abetting Coleman’s embezzlement and making 
false statements to law enforcement. Coleman allegedly directed the payment of Neighborhood House 
funds to business entities controlled by the defendants – approximately $24,000 to Johnson under the business name “JCS Consulting” and over $40,000 to Turner under the 
business name “Teach Me Technology, LLC.” According to the indictments, both men then used the 
money they received to make cash payments back to Coleman. The indictments further allege that both 
Johnson and Turner later lied to FBI and IRS agents about the existence of the kickbacks to 
Coleman.

Taylor is charged separately with making false statements to a federal agent. The indictment 
against her alleges that from 2015 to 2018, Neighborhood House provided fiscal support services for 
the administration of federal grant funds to a Cahokia School District after school program. During 
that time, a significant number of Apple products – including Apple watches, iPads and MacBook Pro 
laptop computers – were allegedly purchased by Neighborhood House and provided to people associated 
with the after school program. The indictment alleges that Taylor, a grant manager and writer for 
the Cahokia School District, lied to a federal agent by falsely denying that she had requested the Apple watches.

Embezzling from an organization that receives federal funds is a felony offense, punishable by as 
much as ten years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Making a false statement to a federal agent 
carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

An indictment is merely a formal charge against a defendant. Under the law, a defendant is presumed to be innocent of a charge until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt to the satisfaction of a jury.

The ongoing investigation of these cases is being conducted by the Southern Illinois Public 
Corruption Task Force, which consists of agents with the FBI, IRS-Criminal Investigation, and the 
Illinois State Police. The prosecutions are all being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney   Norman
R. Smith. Citizens are encouraged to report suspicions of public corruption to the Southern 
Illinois Public Corruption Task Force Tip Line at (618) 589-7373.
 

Updated November 1, 2019