Friday, April 20, 2012
Former Chicago Cop & Ex-Country Club Hills Police Chief Regina Evans charged with money laundering
SPRINGFIELD — A former Country Club Hills police chief was charged Friday with misappropriating part of a $1.25 million state grant.
Regina R. Evans, 49, faces one count of mail fraud and two counts of money laundering for siphoning off almost half of the state job-training grant for her personal use between February 2009 and June 2010, prosecutors said.
Evans pleaded innocent to the federal charges, which were part of a sealed grand jury indictment made public Friday. She was released on a $10,000 bond.
Evans sought the job-training grant in February 2009 on behalf of a non-profit she ran called We Are Our Brother’s Keeper. She took over as chief in Country Club Hills on April 1 of that year, and stepped down as the south suburb’s police chief in October 2011.
The money was supposed to be used to help minorities learn bricklaying and other building trades while renovating the Regal Theater, a historic South Side theater she owned.
The indictment alleged Evans converted “as much as $500,000 or more” of the grant for her “personal use” and to benefit businesses she owned, including the theater and The Prime Time Group.
The indictment alleged that Evans used $275,000 of the grant to make payments on a delinquent mortgage she had for the Regal Theater, which at the time the job-training money was made available was facing foreclosure in Cook County Circuit Court.
The indictment also accused her of diverting $135,000 of the grant to her personal bank account that was “used for cash withdrawals and personal and other expenses, including the repayment of additional indebtedness.”
Evans, who spent 22 years with the Chicago Police Department before retiring in 2007 as a lieutenant, channeled another $50,000 in grant funds to her “family members, friends and associates,” the indictment alleged.
The criminal action against Evans follows a grant-recovery lawsuit by Attorney General Lisa Madigan against We Are Our Brother’s Keeper. In her lawsuit, Madigan alleged Evans, as operator of the non-profit, essentially paid herself $12,000-a-month rent for the charity to rent space in the theater.
Her lawyer, Larry Beaumont, said his client did not misspend state dollars and that her use of the grant remained consistent with its original purpose.
“I expect the evidence will show we used the money for exactly what we intended to use the money for, which was to create opportunities for disadvantaged youth in the community in connection with this theater,” he said.
“We certainly disagree with the allegations as set forth in the indictment. We think when all the evidence settles, the record will be clear,” Beaumont said.
A spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney James A. Lewis, the top federal prosecutor in Illinois’ central district, declined comment on the indictment.