A onetime top aide to former state public health director Dr. Eric Whitaker was indicted Wednesday in what federal authorities said was a $433,000 grant kickback scam she then tried to cover up.
Quinshaunta R. Golden allegedly used her position as Whitaker’s chief of staff to issue millions of dollars in state grants. There was no indication in the indictment that Whitaker, a close friend of President Barack Obama, knew about the alleged wrongdoing.
Golden, the niece of U.S. Rep. Danny Davis, is the 13th person to be charged in a federal task force’s ongoing investigation of state grant and contract fraud. The probe already has claimed the political career of former state Rep. Connie Howard, who pleaded guilty last month to diverting as much as $28,000 from a scholarship fund she created to benefit needy students.
Golden, who could not be reached for comment, also served on the board of the Cook County health system until she resigned in February.
The indictment indicates that the scheme also involved Leon Dingle Jr. and Karin Dingle. The Dingles, along with two associates, were charged last October in a grant scheme. Prosecutors said they lived a lavish lifestyle bankrolled in part by $3.7 million in state money designed for cancer- and-AIDS related programs.
Whitaker, who golfed with Obama during the president’s 52nd birthday celebration last weekend, left the state public health department in late 2007 to work with Michelle Obama at the University of Chicago Medicine. Golden left her state job in early 2008 and joined Whitaker at U of C. Whitaker, who left the U of C this year, could not be reached for comment.
The federal investigation also led to charges against two officials with the Chicago chapter of the National Black Nurses Association that grant money was diverted for personal use. In June, Lloyd Kelly, a former aide to Rep. Howard, was charged with mail fraud. Kelly is accused of spending more than $217,000 in state AIDS awareness grant money on a house and football game skyboxes.