JERI L. WRIGHT (AP Photo/File)
by John O’Connor
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — 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.
Contact AP Political Writer John O’Connor at https://www.twitter.com/apoconnor