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Former health commissioner indicted

Published: Saturday, Oct. 6, 2012 1:15 a.m. CDT

CHICAGO (AP) – A former Illinois Medical District commissioner, his wife and two other people used at least $3.7 million in state health grants to pay for vacation homes, yacht club memberships, luxury cars and other personal expenses, federal prosecutors said Friday.

Leon Dingle Jr., 75, and Karin Dingle, 73, both of Chicago, were indicted on charges of conspiracy to defraud, money laundering and mail fraud. Employee Jacquelyn Kilpatrick, 57, of Phoenix, Ill., and Edmond Clemons, 66, who lives at the same address as Kilpatrick, also were named in the 23-count indictment handed up late Thursday.

Phone messages seeking comment left at Dingle’s office and Kilpatrick and Edmonds’ home Friday were not returned.

Leon Dingle was appointed to the Illinois Medical District, which oversees development of 560 acres of health care and research facilities, universities and labs, in 1991. He was among the six of seven commissioners Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle replaced in a major overhaul in March.

According to the indictment, Dingle was president, CEO, treasurer and the sole shareholder of the Chicago-based nonprofit Advance Health, Social and Educational Associates, Inc. Karin Dingle was vice president, and Kilpatrick was the organization’s bookkeeper.

They are accused of using three other nonprofits as straw recipients of Illinois Department of Public Health grants intended for programs related to HIV/AIDS, breast, cervical and prostate cancer and emergency preparedness. Those organizations were the Broadcast Ministers Alliance of Chicago, Access Wellness and Racial Equity and Medical Health Association, the indictment states.

Prosecutors said about $7.4 million was received by the organizations and routed to Dingle’s corporation. The Dingles, Kilpatrick and Edmonds spent about $3 million of those funds on homes in Hilton Head, S.C., and Savannah, Georgia; memberships at the Chicago Yacht Club and the South Carolina Yacht Club; furs and certificates of deposit, among other items.

About $400,000 went toward legal fees for lawsuits filed against Leon Dingle and his organization. The indictment states Dingle also spent about $29,000 to buy tickets, two skyboxes, alcohol and food for the Chicago Football Classic, a match-up between two historically black colleges and universities.

Heather Tarczan, a spokeswoman for the Illinois Medical District, said district officials were unaware of the allegations at the time Preckwinkle replaced most of the commissioners, including Dingle, and that none of the organizations involved in the alleged fraud were affiliated with the district.

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