Ronald Evans | Sun-Times file photo
SPRINGFIELD — Facing possible prison time, the ex-cop husband of former Country Club Hills police chief Regina Evans tearfully broke down on the witness stand Wednesday during emotional testimony in the federal money-laundering trial of the daughter of President Barack Obama’s one-time pastor.
Ronald Evans, a key government witness in the case against Jeri Wright, was reduced to tears by a defense lawyer seeking to portray his client as an unwitting participant in a state grant-fraud scheme orchestrated by Evans’ wife, who has admitted with her husband to squandering $1.25 million in state job-training funds.
Wright, 48, of Hazel Crest, is a childhood friend of Regina Evans and is accused in an 11-count federal indictment of money-laundering, lying to federal investigators and lying to a federal grand jury.
The government believes Wright improperly pocketed as much as $11,000 in state job-training funds and allegedly lied to federal authorities and grand jurors when asked about the money, the prosecution contends.
The Evanses, who have pleaded guilty for their roles in the grant-fraud scheme, have acknowledged that they misspent the state job-training money on new furniture and renovations at their County Club Hills home, mortgage payments on their former Chicago home, a trip to Las Vegas and cash for her family and friends.
They misused an additional $180,000 in grant funds by paying down a $2 million mortgage that Regina and Ronald Evans had on the New Regal Theater at 79th and Stony Island, which they purchased and had intended to rehabilitate before they fell behind on payments and lost the property to foreclosure.