Chicago Not-for-Profit Leader Charged With Stealing $200K in State Grant Funds

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The head of a Chicago not-for-profit organization is facing federal charges alleging he stole at least $200,000 in state grants intended to develop commercial properties and fund a job training program, according to an indictment unveiled Thursday.

Yesse Jehudah, the longtime leader of Fulfilling Our Responsibilities Unto Mankind, a community improvement organization also known as FORUM, is charged with eight counts of bank fraud and seven counts of wire fraud.

The indictment alleges Yehudah, 71, made false statements and submitted phony documents misrepresenting how $575,000 in three grants given FORUM by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Security from 2013 to 2016 were being used.

Two grants were for developing commercial properties in suburban Dolton, and the third was intended for a weatherization jobs training program.

At one point Yehudah claimed the organization spent nearly all of a $100,000 grant on construction when construction had yet to begin, prosecutors allege. He is also accused of defrauding a bank by forging the signatures of subcontractors to endorse checks over to himself.

Telephone messages seeking comment from Yehudah weren’t immediately returned.

In 2002, the Illinois attorney general’s office sued Yehudah and another charity operator for allegedly stealing funds intended for violence prevention and computer literacy programs. Yehudah settled the litigation by donating $10,000 to a charity.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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