March , 2019

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Nine individuals who perpetrated fraud schemes that cheated taxpayer funded government benefit programs out of millions of dollars have been indicted following a long-term investigation by the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Regional Organized Crime Task Force, State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez announced today.

The nine individuals are charged with operating schemes that defrauded the U.S.  Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) out of more than $6 million in government assistance funding.  The defendants are alleged to have illegally collected financial benefits that they were not entitled to for public housing, food stamps, flood relief assistance and government assistance for impoverished women and children.

“This brazen theft of public funding intended for citizens and families in need will not be tolerated,” said State’s Attorney Alvarez.  “We will continue to investigate and aggressively prosecute those individuals who engage in these offensive financial crimes that defraud taxpayers.”

The State’s Attorney’s Regional Organized Crime Task Force Benefit Fraud Committee coordinated the investigation with the assistance of multiple agencies including HUD, FEMA, USDA, CHA, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Social Security Administration,  the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services and the Chicago Police Department.

According to prosecutors, the defendants engaged in a variety of financial schemes that included falsifying financial aid applications, failing to report income in order to qualify for food stamps and other benefits, and fraudulently processing checks from a federal program designed to assist indigent women and their children.

Among those charged are:

Zuhger Mohammud, 39, of suburban Wood Dale.   Mohammud is charged with Theft of Government Property (Class X felony), WIC Fraud, Continuing a Financial Crimes Enterprise, and Public Aid Wire Fraud.  According to prosecutors, investigators executing a search warrant at Mohammud’s home in connection with a separate fencing investigation recovered thousands of pre-dated checks from the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program.  The WIC program is designed to provide food assistance to indigent pregnant and post-partum women, infants and children under the age of 5.  A total of 6,517 pre-dated checks were recovered.

According to prosecutors, Mohammud, who owns several businesses in the Chicago metropolitan area, is alleged to have engaged in a scheme in which he would accept blank WIC checks from customers at the store at a reduced value and allow customers to purchase goods that were not authorized under the WIC assistance program.

An analysis of records from all of Mohammud’s stores between 2011 and 2014 revealed the stores redeemed a total of $5.2 million in WIC benefits despite the fact that Mohammud was never an authorized WIC vendor.

Arthur Dorsey, Jr. (aka Cleveland Reed, Jr.), 68, of Chicago.  Dorsey is charged with Theft of Government Property, Continuing a Financial Crimes Enterprise and Forgery in connection with three separate schemes.  Dorsey is alleged to have collected social security benefits under his alias name as well as illegally obtained housing benefits through the CHA Housing Choice Voucher program.  In addition, he is alleged to have used the alias name to receive benefits at a CHA owned property located on Chicago’s South Side.  In total, prosecutors allege that Dorsey’s schemes resulted in a loss of more than $150,000 to the Social Security Administration and a loss of more than $200,000 to the CHA.

Tiajuanna Hawthorne, 39, of Chicago. Hawthorne is charged with Continuing Financial Crimes Enterprise, Theft, Financial Institution Fraud and Forgery.  Hawthorne is alleged to have received more than $88,000 in housing benefits from the CHA as a result of falsely reporting her income and her employers.  In addition, Hawthorne filed a fraudulent disaster assistance form and received a $1,300 grant from FEMA claiming that she was the owner of a home that was damaged by flooding.

Also charged are:

Lorene Loyde, 42, of Chicago, charged with Continuing Financial Crimes Enterprise, Theft, Financial Institution Fraud, Wire Fraud and Forgery.

Ericka Island, 34, of Chicago, charged with Continuing Financial Crimes Enterprise, Theft, Financial Institution Fraud and Forgery.

Helen Davis, 75, of Chicago, charged with Theft and Financial Institution Fraud.

Aletta Wise (aka Aletta Applewhite), 40, of Chicago, charged with Theft and Financial Institution Fraud.

Doris Bell, 66, of Chicago, charged with Theft, State Benefits Fraud, Continuing Financial Crimes Enterprise and Forgery.

Howard Headd, 78, of Chicago, charged with Continuing Financial Crimes Enterprise and Forgery.

The public is reminded that criminal charging documents contain allegations that are not evidence of guilt.  The defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the state has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

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Welcome to CopyLine Magazine! The first issue of CopyLine Magazine was published in November, 1990, by Editor & Publisher Juanita Bratcher. CopyLine’s main focus is on the political arena – to inform our readers and analyze many of the pressing issues of the day - controversial or otherwise. Our objectives are clear – to keep you abreast of political happenings and maneuvering in the political arena, by reporting and providing provocative commentaries on various issues. For more about CopyLine Magazine, CopyLine Blog, and CopyLine Television/Video, please visit juanitabratcher.com, copylinemagazine.com, and oneononetelevision.com. Bratcher has been a News/Reporter, Author, Publisher, and Journalist for 33 years. She is the author of six books, including “Harold: The Making of a Big City Mayor” (Harold Washington), Chicago’s first African-American mayor; and “Beyond the Boardroom: Empowering a New Generation of Leaders,” about John Herman Stroger, Jr., the first African-American elected President of the Cook County Board. Bratcher is also a Poet/Songwriter, with 17 records – produced by HillTop Records of Hollywood, California. Juanita Bratcher Publisher

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