Chicago area man used funds intended for non-profit to pay down $436K in credit card balances: indictment

Two executives of a Chicago-area non-profit organization have been indicted on federal fraud charges for allegedly misappropriating over $1.8 million in funds that were intended to support the charity's work, prosecutors announced Wednesday. 

Tony Bell, 61, of Matteson, and Barbara Harris, 52, of South Holland have been charged with conspiracy, money laundering and wire fraud. 

According to prosecutors, Bell served as executive director of the Center for Community Academic Success Partnerships, and Harris was a CCASP project manager. 

The organization received government grants and other funds to provide after-school programs to elementary and secondary schools in the Chicago area. 

According to an indictment, from 2012 to 2017, Bell, Harris and others fraudulently obtained and misappropriated at least $1.8 million in federal funds.


They allegedly transferred about $1.3 million to bank accounts they controlled, and used approximately $436,536 to pay down Bell's credit card balances.

Bell, Harris and associates also used about $130,372 of the fraud proceeds to write numerous checks made payable to Community Partners — which is an unincorporated entity that the defendants claimed was a subcontractor to CCASP.

Bell and Harris allegedly negotiated the Community Partners checks for cash and used them to purchase money orders at a currency exchange in Dolton.