Feds, Alvarez seek more records from Quinn administration
BY DAVE MCKINNEY Springfield Bureau Chief May 2, 2014 8:31PM
Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez (left) has sent a subpoena to the administration of Gov. Pat Quinn (right) seeking records relating to the state's Neighborhood Recorvery Initiative. | Sun-Times File Photo
Updated: May 3, 2014 12:50AM
SPRINGFIELD — Two separate law-enforcement agencies launched a new round of inquiries Friday into Gov. Pat Quinn’s now-defunct Neighborhood Recovery Initiative, marking an expansion into the dual criminal probes of the governor’s tainted, one-time anti-violence program.
“The Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority has received inquiries from the Cook County state’s attorney’s office and the U.S. Attorney’s...office-Central District regarding the now-defunct Neighborhood Recovery Initiative. We are working with these agencies to provide all records and requested information,” said Cristin Evans, a spokeswoman for the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority.
Her agency fielded a phone call seeking records on the 2010 program from the U.S. Attorney’s office in Springfield, which has racked up a succession of successful state grand-fraud prosecutions, including former
Country Club Hills Police Chief Regina Evans, who was sentenced to five years in prison Thursday for state grant fraud.
The move by federal investigators followed a similar call this week from them to state Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka’s office, seeking Neighborhood Recovery Initiative contracts and other related documents.
The Criminal Justice Information Authority also was hit Friday by a second subpoena from Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez, who on March 19 sought records on the anti-violence program from the state Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity as part of an ongoing criminal probe.
Alvarez’ latest subpoena sought “any and all original documents, records, memos, notes, invoices, records of payments, personnel files, time sheets, budgets, and correspondence pertaining to: Illinois Violence Prevention Authority.
“Said documents must include all documents received by the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority when it took control of Illinois Violence Prevention Authority,” the subpoena said, alluding to the agency that oversaw the program until they both were disbanded in 2012 by the Quinn administration.
The dual criminal probes have come at a difficult time for the Democratic governor, who is in the midst of a tough re-election campaign against Republican Bruce Rauner.
Quinn signed off on the $54.5 million anti-violence program one month before his 2010 election win over Republican state Sen. Bill Brady, but the issue gained real traction in February when Auditor General William Holland outlined “pervasive” mismanagement, questionable contracting and, in some instances, non-existent accounting for how the state dollars were spent.
After that audit, the Chicago Sun-Times has dissected the program with a series of stories outlining its problems.
In March, the newspaper reported on a move by one Violence Prevention Authority contractor, the Black United Fund of Illinois, to hire two young gang members to distribute anti-violence pamphlets on the South Side. The pair allegedly broke into an apartment, a shooting occurred, one of the circulators was killed and the other was charged with murder.
Also that month, the Sun-Times reported about how Benton Cook III, the husband of Cook County Circuit Clerk Dorothy Brown, pocketed more than $146,000 in salary and fringe benefits from Neighborhood Recovery Initiative grant funds, accounting for 7 percent of the total $2.1 state allotment to combat violence in the West Garfield Park neighborhood. Cook oversaw several subcontractors, including his own non-profit, which took in more than $3,300 in anti-violence grant money.
And in April, the paper outlined how in south suburban Thornton Township, the wife of state Rep. William “Will” Davis, D-Homewood, received more than $137,000 in salary and benefits from anti-violence grant money.