SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — A widening federal investigation into the alleged misuse of a $1.25 million state grant led Wednesday to the indictment of the daughter the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, the contentious former pastor of President Barack Obama.
A grand jury sitting in Springfield returned three indictments, including one that claims Jeri L. Wright, of Hazel Crest, took $28,000 in state money, purporting to do work related to the grant’s purpose, but deposited about $20,000 into bank accounts controlled by Regina and Ronald Evans, of Country Club Hills.
A superseding indictment also was handed down Wednesday contending Evans, the former police chief of Country Club Hills, and her husband committed wire fraud, money laundering and more in using the 2009 grant from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. Through two nonprofits the Evanses ran, the couple allegedly promised to use the grant money to train bricklayers and electricians and provide GED preparation in a renovated theater they owned in Chicago.
The indictment claims little or no training was done.
Lawrence Beaumont, of Chicago, attorney for Regina Evans, 50, said she is innocent but declined further comment. Beaumont confirmed that Jeri Wright is the daughter of the fiery minister whose sermons and later public statements during the 2008 presidential campaign forced then-U.S. Sen. Obama to denounce the pastor’s utterances.
A number for the 47-year-old Jeri Wright is disconnected.
The third indictment charges Regina Evans’ brother, Ricky McCoy, of Chicago, with obstruction of justice, witness tampering and other charges related to the ongoing investigation, along with money laundering. It claims that the 52-year-old McCoy cashed a check for $16,249 and deposited it into a bank account controlled by the Evanses.
A message left with McCoy’s mother was not immediately returned. McCoy’s attorney, Ralph Meczyk, of Chicago, said Wednesday night he had not seen the indictment and had no immediate comment.
Regina Evans was first indicted in April 2012. The Associated Press reported in early 2012 that after state officials pursued questionable spending, a Cook County judge ordered reimbursement of $917,000 from one of the Evanses’ nonprofits, We Are Our Brother’s Keeper — for which McCoy had served as executive director. At that time, a third of the money had been repaid. It was not immediately clear Wednesday night if any more had been recovered.
Photo Highlights: President Obama Chicago Farewell Speech
President Barack Obama makes his final farewell speech in his hometown of Chicago. Arriving at O'hare airport on Airforce One Tuesday, early evening was First Lady Michelle Obama, daughter Malia and Vice President Joe Biden along with wife, Jill Biden.
Making a final journey as the 44th President of the United States, expressways and local South Side streets were cleared as traffic stood at a complete when the 20-vehicle caravan made its way to Valois Restaurant in Hyde Park. There, President Obama conducted a one-on-one interview with NBC anchorman, Lester Holt before proceeding to give his farewell speech at McCormick Place.
Nearly 20,000 attendees packed the nearly standing-room only space in the East wing of the McCormick Place as VIP attendees sat upfront to hang onto the President's every word. There were various groups that traveled from far and near to be a part of history including celebrity sightings from Sharon Stone to Empire's Jussie Smollett--local and state dignitaries. Opening up the ceremony was a special performance by Hip hop/R&B singer, BJ the Chicago Kid showcasing belting out the national anthem is a smart blue suit.
Once President Obama hit the stage, the electric energy of emotions ran throughout the audience. At times, the crowd's applause was so loud that it impossible to hear him but there were moments that silence rippled throughout the venue--knowing this would be his last time addressing his hometown as Chief of Staff.
In his signature style of class, poise and honor--he addressed the various strides that he and his administration has made over the last eight years in protecting America's democracy. His emotions got the best of him when he addressed his wife, First Lady Michelle Obama and daughter Malia who sat in the front row along with Vice President Joe Biden, wife Jill and his mother-in-law--Marian Shields Robinson.
<p class="p1"><span class="s1">“Malia and Sasha, under the strangest of circumstances, you have become two amazing young women, smart and beautiful, but more importantly, kind and thoughtful and full of passion. You wore the burden of years in the spotlight so easily. Of all that I’ve done in my life, I’m most proud to be your dad.”</span></p>
<p class="p1">After the speech, the Obama family took time out to walk along the barricades, greeting and shaking hands with supporters and friends. The scene was definitely historic and we knew it was the end of an era of class that will not be duplicated in the White House for a very long time.</p>
<p class="p1"><a href="http://www.twitter.com/globalmixx">Follow Mary L. Datcher on Twitter</a></p>
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