Former director of Lessie Bates Davis Neighborhood House charged with embezzlement

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A federal grand jury has indicted the former executive director of the Lessie Bates Davis Neighborhood House on embezzlement charges.

Christopher K. Coleman, 42, of Troy, is accused of embezzling federal funds from July 2016 to December 2017 while serving as the organization’s executive director, a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Illinois stated. The indictment further alleges that Coleman concealed his crime by creating and using false invoices.

The Lessie Bates Davis Neighborhood House is a nonprofit, faith-based organization in East St. Louis, whose mission states, “to improve the quality of life for residents of all ages by providing quality early childhood development services, comprehensive youth services, individual and family support services, services to older adults and housing economic development services, which will help move individuals and families out of poverty.”

Coleman resigned as executive director in January 2018. He had worked for the organization for several years before being appointed to the role in July 2016.

Embezzling money from an organization that receives federal funds carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000 and restitution. According to the release, Coleman is scheduled to make his initial appearance at the federal courthouse in East St. Louis on June 25.

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Hana Muslic has been a public safety reporter for the Belleville News-Democrat since August 2018, covering everything from crime and courts to accidents, fires and natural disasters. She is a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s College of Journalism and her previous work can be found in The Lincoln Journal-Star and The Kansas City Star.