- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 23, 2015

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - A former Illinois Department of Public Health aide was sentenced Tuesday to eight years in prison for her part in a kickback scheme that defrauded the state of millions of dollars.

Quinshaunta Golden pleaded guilty in April 2014 to bribery, theft and obstruction of justice. She was accused of issuing more than $11 million in falsified grants in exchange for kickbacks.

In addition to prison time, U.S. District Judge Sue Myerscough ordered Golden to pay $1 million in restitution and serve three years of supervised release after her release from prison.

Golden, who is free on bond, was ordered to report to the Federal Bureau of Prisons on Sept. 1. She asked to serve her time in either Greenville or Alderson, West Virginia.

The (Springfield) State Journal-Register reports (https://bit.ly/1fynto6 ) that in a plea for leniency, Golden, 46, of Homewood, said she has already suffered for her actions, including difficulties through a pregnancy, depression and physical ailments.

“This has been a daily struggle,” she said. “It seems I will wear the face of guilt, shame and embarrassment forever.”

Golden’s sentencing hearing began Friday and saw 20 individuals volunteering to testify and send letters on Golden’s behalf, including Chicago Democratic Rep. Danny Davis, who is Golden’s uncle, and Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Andrea Zopp.

U.S. Attorney Timothy Bass called it a “barrage of sympathy.”

“This is no anomaly,” Bass said about Golden’s character in his closing remarks. “This was a deliberate act by a public official.”

Defense attorney J. William Roberts described Golden’s crimes as an extension of the political climate under imprisoned former Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

“Everything was a public relations move to make the governor look good,” he said. “When one takes a step back, you can see it wasn’t driven by Quin.”

Roberts, in asking for a 30-month term for Golden, said having her name and reputation sullied and much of her life savings liquidated was punishment enough.

The accusations against Golden stem from her time as chief of staff under former Public Health Director Dr. Eric A. Whitaker, who has not been charged with a crime. Golden allegedly took steps to ensure millions in grants went to not-for-profit groups controlled by Leon Dingle Jr. He was convicted last year with his wife of theft of money meant to raise awareness of AIDS and cancer.

Roxanne Jackson, a former director of human resources for the Department of Public Health, pleaded guilty in September to bribery, theft and tax evasion charges. She was recently sentenced to 25 months in prison and ordered to repay the roughly $1.1 million meant for health department programs.

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Information from: The State Journal-Register, https://www.sj-r.com

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