A man who once ran a charity now stands convicted of self-dealing. Christopher K. Coleman, 42, of Troy, Illinois, has pleaded guilty to embezzling over a quarter million dollars from the Lessie Bates Davis Neighborhood House (“Neighborhood House”) – a non-profit organization in East St. Louis that receives federal funds.
In July 2016, Coleman became the executive director of Neighborhood House, a faith-based organization whose mission is to improve the quality of life for East St. Louis residents of all ages by helping them out of poverty. As part of his plea, Coleman acknowledged that from July 2016 to the end of 2017, he embezzled over $250,000 from Neighborhood House, for the benefit of himself and others. He also acknowledged falsifying a federal tax return by failing to report the embezzled funds as income.
Steven D. Weinhoeft, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, said: “To steal funds from an organization that assists the impoverished is just like stealing directly from the poor and the neediest.”
Sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 19, 2019. Coleman faces a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, and up to three years supervised release. Coleman will also be required to pay restitution, which according to prosecutors is $270,655.71.
The investigation was 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 prosecution was 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.