Trustee appointed to replace felon's wife in Washington Park

News-DemocratMarch 10, 2014 

— A village trustee who was appointed last month to replace her husband on the board after he pleaded guilty to Medicaid fraud has herself been replaced.

Rosonda Suggs was named to the Board of Trustees after her husband, Darron Suggs, was convicted of felony Medicaid fraud, but she turned in her resignation at the last board meeting in February. No explanation was given.

On Monday morning, the remaining board members unanimously appointed Allen Ray Williams to the board. Those voting were Mayor Ann Rodgers, Carleen Tucker, James Mackins, Willie "Big Mack" McIntosh and Yulonda Clark. Trustee Ferris Williams was not present due to health reasons.

Williams, 42, of Washington Park, said he decided he wanted to be a part of the board out of "concern for the citizens."

He said he plans to team up with the rest of the board and get the things done that need to be done. "It takes everybody working together to achieve progress," he said.

Darron Suggs, 39, of Washington Park, is awaiting sentencing. He pleaded guilty to claiming hours for personal assistant services not actually performed for two qualified Medicaid beneficiaries, according to court records. The scheme began in 2006 and ended in 2013.

Suggs faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. He also had to resign from his job with the St. Clair County Probation Department after he was indicted.

In other matters, the board unanimously voted to accept a memorandum of understanding between the village of Washington Park and the Lessie Bates Neighborhood House that gives officials in Washington Park the authority to manage the Trinity Center, which is owned by Lessie Bates.

Rodgers said she met with officials at Lessie Bates in January, seeking control of the building. She said she did not want to have to go through Lessie Bates every time she needed to use the building for Washington Park residents. She called this new opportunity "a big plus for Washington Park."

"We don't have to go to the JJK (Jackie Joyner Kersee) Center or Mary Brown. Whether it be for computers or research or just to have an outlet for the children from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. -- and summer is coming. We have African dance classes going on there now," Rodgers said.

The building will also be used for Zumba classes and other exercise classes to help residents get healthier and lose weight, she said,

"I have a vision for the whole community to use the building," she said.

The board also voted to hire Anita Earl to do some bookkeeping because records have to be turned over to Joseph and Joiner, the village auditors, by June 30.

She will work on an as-needed basis at $12 an hour, and her pay will not exceed $750 a month, Rodgers said.

Earl was hired because the current accountant, Kathy Radcliffe, has a very busy schedule and will be out of town a lot during this period. Rodgers said she is an independent contractor and works on an as-needed basis, but her availability will not be enough to help the village get their records in order by the auding deadline.

The board spent some time in executive session, but Rodgers said it did not discuss anything that required a vote in public.

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