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Feds allege grant money for HIV bankrolled politician’s expenses

Lloyd M. Kelly Let's Talk Let's Test foundation

Lloyd M. Kelly, of Let's Talk, Let's Test foundation

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Updated: July 23, 2013 6:13AM

Money from a state-funded HIV and AIDS program was used to bankroll the campaign expenses of a South Side politician, a recently unsealed federal indictment alleges.

Nearly a year after State Rep. Connie Howard (D-Chicago) abruptly resigned amid scandal, the court papers accusing her former legislative aide Lloyd Kelly provide potentially fresh insight into her decision to quit for what she at the time called “personal reasons.”

Kelly, 52, of Chicago, is charged with mail fraud for his handling of a nonprofit he founded with Howard in 2007. Though Howard has not been charged and is identified only as “Public Official A” in court records, details in Kelly’s indictment make it clear she is also being accused by the feds of benefitting from the scam.

The organization founded by Kelly and Howard, called “Let’s Talk, Let’s Test,” got state grants worth $1.2 million to fight HIV and AIDS.

Instead, the money was allegedly used to help Kelly pay for his home, to pay Howard’s staff and office rent and for Howard and others to eat and drink in a Soldier Field skybox at a 2007 college football game, the indictment alleges.

The indictment was returned by a Springfield grand jury in July 2012 — two weeks before Howard resigned — but was only unsealed last month when Kelly was arrested.

It alleges Kelly and the organization never intended to do the HIV and AIDS prevention work they were paid by the state to do.

Howard had previously sponsored the African-American HIV/AIDS Response Act to tackle the HIV crisis in black communities, and had helped “Let’s Talk, Let’s Test” get 40 percent of the $3 million in funds the state doled out under the act.

She could not be reached for comment Friday but told the Sun-Times when she was subpoenaed in 2010 that she would not comment “until the investigation has been completed.”

Kelly’s attorney likewise declined to comment, though Kelly in 2009 insisted he’d done nothing wrong, blaming state healthcare officials for his foundation’s problems.

Dr. Eric Whitaker — a close friend of President Barack Obama — was also subpoenaed as part of the investigation in 2009. Whitaker led the Illinois Department of Public Health at the time the grants were given to “Let’s Talk, Let’s Test” but is not accused of any wrongdoing.

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