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
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.