- Associated Press - Friday, June 12, 2015

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - A former Illinois health official was sentenced Friday to more than two years in prison for her role in a scheme to steal millions in grant money - a lighter than typical punishment federal prosecutors said they advocated for because of Roxanne Jackson’s help with their investigation.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Bass said he recommended a prison sentence of half of typical guidelines because Jackson’s cooperation with the government - which included wearing a wire and sharing text messages and recorded conversations with other state officials - resulted in several other pleas and convictions.

In addition to ordering Jackson to serve 25 months in federal prison, Judge Sue Myerscough also ordered the Olympia Fields woman to repay the roughly $1.1 million meant for Illinois Department of Public Health programs. She will be placed on supervised release for three years following her time in prison, Myerscough said.

Jackson, 50, appeared solemn during the sentencing hearing in federal court in Springfield as she apologized to both the court and her family. She said that her actions were a “terrible misjudgment” and pledged to “never ever engage in activities like that.”

She said she planned to “spend the rest of my life encouraging people to pay and follow the law.”

Jackson, a former director of human resources for the Department of Public Health, pleaded guilty in September to bribery, theft and tax evasion charges, admitting she participated in the bribery and kickback scheme with department chief of staff Quinshaunta Golden, of Homewood.

Bass said Jackson, at Golden’s direction, was a paid consultant to several nonprofit entities that received state grants and to a security business owned by her brother that conducted background checks and interviews of Illinois nursing home residents.

As a result, Jackson received more than $1,000,000 in grant and contract funds between 2006 and 2009 and paid Golden about $433,000 in kickbacks, prosecutors said.

Jackson’s sentencing comes after Chicago businessman Leon Dingle and his wife, Karin Dingle, were convicted on more than a dozen counts of stealing $3.4 million in grants meant to raise awareness of AIDS and cancer in minority and underserved communities.

Golden pleaded guilty to counts including involving theft, bribery, embezzlement and obstruction of justice and is scheduled to be sentenced June 19.

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