Former Chicago professor charged with embezzling $650K from student organization for fancy clothes, vacations

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CHICAGO, IL – A former Chicago State University professor was federally indicted recently for allegedly embezzling over $650K during a five-year span from a student group that focuses on “minority representation” within the pharmaceutical industry. 

Coincidentally, the woman accused of embezzling the funds also happens to be black as well

According to the press release from the Department of Justice, 49-year-old Carmita Coleman had served as a volunteer executive director for the Student National Pharmaceutical Association. 

Dr. Carmita A. Coleman
Carmita Coleman – Chicago State University

While in said role from 2011 to 2016, Coleman had managed to allegedly fraudulently misappropriate roughly $651,272 from the student association. 

Officials say Coleman pulled the aforementioned off via submitting false and misleading reports that concealed cash withdrawals and checks issued to herself to behoove her and her family. 

Once a new executive director was appointed to the position that Coleman held within the organization, prosecutors say that Coleman went to further lengths to delay transferring access of the banks accounts to the new appointee. 

Apparently, while this is the first instance of criminal charges against Coleman, the Texas-based pharmaceutical association had already filed a federal lawsuit against Coleman back in 2017 under the same allegations. 

When the lawsuit was presented back in 2017, the plaintiffs alleged that Coleman was specifically using the embezzled funds for the likes of expensive clothes, dining out and vacation trips. 

The official federal charges Coleman has been hit with are four counts of wire fraud, and they carry some serious penalties. 

According to the DOJ’s announcement, the following was said about the charges Coleman is facing: 

“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.”

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In terms of recent federal cases, this embezzling case from Chicago pales in comparison to the recent guilty plea attained from a former Green Beret who was in league with Russia and spying for them. 

Here’s that recent report. 

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WASHINGTON, DC – The Department of Justice announced that on November 18th of 2020, a former Army Green Beret pleaded guilty to providing national defense information to Russian intelligence operatives during and after his career in the military. 

Authorities say that this traitor could face up to life in federal prison for leaking intelligence to a foreign adversary. 

Former Army Green Beret Peter Rafael Dzibinski Debbins had joined the Army back in July of 1998 and served on active duty until November of 2005. 

One month after his active duty discharge, Debbins served in the U.S. Army inactive reserve until 2010. 

During his military career, Debbins had achieved the rank of captain, had been granted a “Top Secret” clearance, served with the 1st Battalion 10th Special Forces Group and even had access to “Sensitive Compartmented Information” through his security clearance. 

And the entire time Debbins was in the military, he was working with Russian operatives all along. In fact, the DOJ says that Debbins’ Russian contacts had guided gravitating toward joining the Special Forces: 

“The Russian intelligence agents encouraged him to join and pursue a career in the Special Forces, which he did, where he served at the rank of Captain.”

Prior to joining the Army, the now-45-year-old had been studying abroad in Russia in 1996 when he was contacted by Russian operatives. Court documents revealed that Debbin’s mother was born in Russia, even though Debbins himself is a United States citizen. 

Before Debbins had even joined the Army in 1998, he was assigned a code name by Russian intelligence agents in 1997: Ikar Lesnikov. 

According to the DOJ, when Debbins was afforded his code name, he’d also pledged his allegiance to Russia: 

“In 1997, Debbins was assigned a code name by Russian intelligence agents and signed a statement attesting that he wanted to serve Russia.”

From December of 1996 to January of 2011, officials say that Debbins filtered copious amounts of sensitive information to Russian operatives.

This included “information about his chemical and Special Forces units,” as well as other the names of other military members that may have wanted to cooperate with Russia: 

“Debbins also provided the Russian intelligence agents with the names of, and information about, a number of his former Special Forces team members so that the agents could evaluate whether to approach the team members to see if they would cooperate with the Russian intelligence service.”

Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers admonished Debbins betrayal during the announcement by the DOJ: 

“Debbins today acknowledged that he violated this country’s highest trust by passing sensitive national security information to the Russians. Debbins betrayed his oath, his country, and his Special Forces team members with the intent to harm the United States and help Russia.”

U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, G. Zachary Terwilliger, mirrored the sentiments conveyed by Demers, saying: 

“Our country entrusted Debbins with the responsibility and training to protect it from its adversaries. Debbins betrayed that trust and betrayed his fellow service members by conspiring to provide national defense information to Russian intelligence operatives.”

The overwhelming notion reiterated by officials linked to this case expressed severe disappointment over Debbins’ abuse of his endowed trust, with Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office Steven M. D’Antuono, saying:

“Debbins betrayed this nation and his fellow serviceman, putting Americans and our national security at risk by providing national defense information to Russia’s Intelligence Service.

“Despite being entrusted to protect his colleagues and U.S. national security, he chose to abuse this trust by knowingly providing classified information to one of our most aggressive adversaries.”

Assistant Director of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division, Alan E. Kohler, Jr., cited that Debbins action were more than a betrayal – but they were also the actions of a coward: 

“President Kennedy called the Green Berets ‘a symbol of excellence, a badge of courage, a mark of distinction.’ Mr. Debbins’ actions were a symbol of betrayal, a badge of cowardice, and a mark of treachery.”

Debbins is slated for sentencing on February 21st of 2021. While the DOJ announced he could face life in federal prison, the DOJ also noted that “sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties,” and that a federal judge will determine Debbins’ prison sentence. 


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