Crusader Staff Report
A former Chicago State University professor has been indicted on federal fraud charges for allegedly embezzling more than $650,000 from a national student organization committed to improving minority representation in the pharmacy industry.
That group, the Student National Pharmaceutical Association (SNPhA), filed a federal lawsuit against Coleman in 2017, detailing how Coleman allegedly carried out the fraud.
While serving as the volunteer executive director of SNPhA Carmita Coleman, 49, withdrew cash and issued checks from the group’s bank accounts for her and her family’s personal benefit, according to the U.S. Attorney’s District Office in Chicago.
Coleman attempted to cover up her scheme by submitting false and misleading reports that concealed her withdrawals, the indictment states.
Prosecutors said when a new individual was appointed to replace Coleman as executive director, Coleman knowingly delayed turning over access to the organization’s bank accounts so that she could continue spending the money for her personal benefit, the indictment states.
This led to a lawsuit and Coleman was ordered to turn over control of all SNPhA accounts and records back to the organization and the new executive director. When she did, it was discovered that Coleman had allegedly “withdrawn over $541,032.58 in cash from SNPhA bank accounts without a legitimate basis and used the debit card for SNPhA to make $110,240.05 in unauthorized purchases.”
That suit claims Coleman used the money on, among other things, “clothing, food, and trips.”
Federal prosecutors allege Coleman attempted to conceal these transactions by submitting false and misleading reports.
The fraud scheme allegedly lasted from 2011 to 2016. Coleman, who separately during the scheme was a professor, and interim dean, at the Chicago State University College of Pharmacy, fraudulently misappropriated approximately $651,272 from the student association, the indictment states.
The indictment charges Coleman, of Frankfort, with four counts of wire fraud. Arraignment in federal court in Chicago has not yet been scheduled.
The indictment was announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; and Emmerson Buie, Jr., Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Field Office of the FBI. The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Heidi Manschreck.
The public is reminded that an indictment is not evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Each count of wire fraud is punishable by up to 20 years in federal prison. If convicted, the Court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal statutes and the advisory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines.