Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Grant Money Goes Into Popular Officials Pocket

by Gary Snyder

Leon Dingle was a member of the Illinois Medical District. For nearly two decades, he sat on the public board, while running a private for-profit health-care business that afforded him a lifestyle that included private clubs and vacation homes. Dingle had access to grants desperately needed by nonprofit health agencies in the African-American community.

The money that was to serve low-income or working-class people constantly battle to stay afloat, ended in his pocket according to an indictment. The federal government allege that Dingle used $3 million of state grant money to buy three Mercedes-Benz cars and to make renovations on vacation homes in Savannah, Ga., and Hilton Head, S.C. They also claim Dingle used money that was supposed to go to nonprofit health organizations to pay expenses at the Chicago Yacht Club and the Mid-America Club, and spent about $29,000 to pay for tickets to the 2007 and 2008 Chicago Classic, an annual football contest at Soldier Field between two historically black colleges.

The federal investigators allege that Dingle used “straw grantees” to obtain the grants, then funneled the money to a for-profit company controlled by him. One of the alleged “straw grantees” is the Broadcast Ministers Alliance, a group of several prominent South Side ministers, including the Rev. Clay Evans, founding pastor of the Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church of Chicago; Bishop Lucius Hall, pastor of the First Church of Love and Faith, and the Rev. Stephen John Thurston, pastor of New Covenant Missionary Baptist Church. According to the indictment, the Broadcast Ministers Alliance was among the groups that won more than $11 million in grants between 2004 and 2010. About $3.7 million of that money was allegedly transferred to a for-profit business controlled by Dingle. In most instances the designated grantees were unaware of the fraud being perpetrated. (link)

Nonprofit Imperative gathers its information principally from public documents...some of which are directly quoted. Virtually all cited are in some phase of criminal proceedings; some have not been charged, however. Cites in various media: Featured in print, broadcast, and online media outlets, including: Vermont Public Radio, Miami Herald, National Public Radio, Huffington Post, The Sun News, Atlanta Journal Constitution, Wall Street Journal (Profile, News and Photos), FOX2, ABC Spotlight on the News, WWJ Radio, Ethics World, Aspen Philanthropy Newsletter, Harvard Business Review, Current Affairs, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, St. Petersburg Times, B, USA Today Topics, Newsweek.com, Responsive Philanthropy Magazine, New York Times...and many more Nonprofits: On the Brink (2006) Silence: The Impending Threat to the Charitable Sector (2011)
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