Construction company owner lied about being minority-owned to get over $2 million in CHA contracts: feds

Lester Coleman | Coleman Development Corp. website

A Chicago construction executive is charged with falsely representing his business as minority-owned in order to get more than $2 million in contracts from the Chicago Housing Authority, according to federal prosecutors.

Lester Coleman, 62, owner of Coleman Development Corp., faces three counts of wire fraud for calling his business minority-owned but allegedly subcontracting nearly all of the work to non-minority-owned businesses, according to an indictment from the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Northern Illinois District.

From 2010 to 2018, Coleman allegedly falsely represented to CHA that his company would do construction work that satisfies the agency’s minority-owned business requirements, prosecutors said.

CHA rules require that contractors have anywhere from 25% to 40% minority participation, depending on the size of the contract.

CHA paid Coleman’s company more than $2.75 million for construction or rehab work on property in the West Ridge, North Park, Albany Park, Archer Heights and Oakland neighborhoods, the indictment states.

The properties include housing units at:

6330 N. Oakley;

6449 N. Washtenaw;

4640S. Keating;

5354 S. Kolin;

6000 N. Monticello;

4918 N. Ridgeway; and

a computer lab conversion project at 3983 S. Lake Park.

The indictment also states Coleman was paying wages below the required federal prevailing wage.

The website of Coleman Development Corp. describes itself as a “small minority owned construction company founded in 1996.”

Each count is punishable by up to 20 years in federal prison. His arraignment hasn’t been set.

Coleman did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment.