DeWitt County Convenience Store Owner Charged with Sales Tax Fraud

By Frank Conklin, The Chicago Times

March 25, 2023

CLINTON, IL – An owner and operator of four DeWitt County convenience stores has been charged with sales tax fraud by Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul.

According to Raoul’s office, 38-year-old Surjit Singh, of Clinton, Illinois, allegedly defrauded the state out of more than $100,000 in sales tax revenue.  Singh has been charged with two felony counts of theft of government property which is punishable by six to thirty years in prison; four felony counts of sales tax evasion punishable by three to seven years in prison; nine felony counts of filing fraudulent sales tax returns punishable by two to five years in prison; and one felony count of forgery punishable by two to five years in prison. 

“Individuals who steal from the state take away resources that are needed to fund the vital programs and services Illinoisans rely upon every day,” Raoul said in a press release.

According to Raoul’s office, Singh is the owner of four Central Illinois convenience stores: Pari Foods Inc. in Clinton, Lake Shore Stop LLC in Decatur, Chandlerville Food Inc. in Chandlerville, and Seeret Ayzel Inc. in Winchester.  Raoul alleges that Singh failed to remit sales tax money collected from customers to the state of Illinois and to have under reported sales to the Illinois.

Chicago Area Red-Light Camera Company Rep Sentenced to Five Years

By James R. Scott, The Chicago Times

March 4, 2023

CHICAGO – A salesman for an unnamed Chicago-area red-light camera company has been sentenced to more than five years in federal prison for conspiring to pay bribes to a public official and for filing a false tax return.

United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, John R. Lausch, Jr., announced that Patrick J. Doherty, 67, of Palos Heights, has been sentenced to more than five years in federal prison.  Lausch revealed that in July of 2022 Doherty pleaded guilty to one count of corruptly offering something of value to influence and reward a public official and one count of filing a false tax return.  Earlier this week, Doherty was sentenced to 64 months’ imprisonment on the bribery charge, and 34 months on the false tax return charge.  Both sentences will be run concurrently.

According to the plea agreement, Doherty offered and agreed to give things of value, namely money, with the intent to influence an unnamed State Senator.  Allegedly, as Chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, the unnamed State Senator was in a position to assist the unnamed red light camera company by opposing legislation adverse to the interests of the red-light-camera industry and obtaining Illinois Department of Transportation approvals for the unnamed company’s red-light cameras.  

In the plea agreement Doherty admitted to other acts of bribery, including acts that involved abusing his position as Chief of Staff for an unnamed Cook County Commissioner, in efforts to benefit individuals who paid money to Doherty and his associates.  It is alleged that Doherty participated in corrupt activities that involved offering and obtaining bribes totaling approximately $148,000.

In 2016, it is alleged that Doherty knowingly caused an accountant to file a false tax return.  According to the government, the false return caused losses to the IRS of at least $14,732 and losses to the Illinois Department of Revenue of at least $1,268.  In addition, Doherty acknowledged that his tax returns 2012 through 2015 and 2017 through 2018 under-reported his income, and thereby caused additional losses to the IRS of at least $58,430; and the Illinois Department of Revenue of at least $6,512.

Three Plead Guilty to $6.5 Million Healthcare Fraud

By Janice Cameron, The Chicago Times

March 3, 2023

CHICAGO – A Chicago-area physical therapist, health care professional, and a personal trainer have pleaded guilty to healthcare fraud schemes that totaled $6.5 million dollars in fraudulent claims.  

United States Attorney for the Northern District John R. Lausch, Jr. said Inessa Katsnelson, 55, of Glenview, Maya Yakubovichn 56, of Arlington Heights, and Beatta Kabbani, 55, of Glenview, each pleaded guilty to one count of healthcare fraud for scheming to defraud private insurers for payment of physical therapy and other services that were never rendered.

Katsnelson, aka “Inessa Blinov,” “Inessa Danuchevsky”, and “Inna,” is a personal trainer and singer who worked out of a gym in Northbrook, participated in a scheme to defraud private health and auto insurers through multiple entities from 2006 to October 2018.  Katsnelson allegedly provided names and insurance information for purported patients to those entities, knowing the entities would submit fraudulent claims to insurance companies for services never provided.  Katsnelson allegedly provided to some of the individuals she referred certain benefits, including free personal training sessions, massages, and the exhaustion of their annual health insurance deductibles, at no cost to them, through the fraudulent billing practices.

Yakubovich, who worked as a medical claims biller for health care facilities in Buffalo Grove, Northfield, Prospect Heights, Wheeling, Des Plaines, and Glenview, participated in the scheme with Katsnelson and others.  According to Lausch, from approximately 2006 to October 2018, Yakubovich knowingly prepared and submitted fraudulent claims, and at times created false medical records to support the claims.  Yakubovich also provided names and insurance information for purported patients to one of the entities, and then submitted fraudulent claims to insurance companies for services never provided to the purported patients.

Kabbani, who was a licensed physical therapist, president, and secretary of a medical group located in Northfield and Glenview, pleaded guilty in a separate case based on her involvement in a related scheme.  According to Lausch, between September 2011 and November 2016, Kabbani fraudulently submitted, and caused to be submitted, fraudulent claims to insurance companies.  The claims falsely represented that certain healthcare services were provided to patients, when Kabbani knew that those services were not actually provided.  The fraudulent claims identified Kabbani, a medical doctor, and another therapist as the service providers on dates when these three providers were not present at the healthcare facility.  To substantiate the fraudulent claims Kabbani created, and caused the creation of, false medical records.

It was revealed that Katsnelson, Yakubovich, and Kabbani, along with their co-schemers, received a portion of the fraudulently obtained funds.  The indictment against Katsnelson, Yakubovich, and others alleges that nine insurance companies were defrauded out of approximately $6.5 million.  Lausch said co-schemers whose charges are still pending are 60-year-old Tetyana Voronkina, aka “Tanya Vorokina”, a medical claims biller, of Mundelein, and massage therapist Viktor Danchuk, 62, of Roselle.

Katsnelson is scheduled to appear for sentencing on May 26, 2023, Yakubovich’s sentencing is scheduled for May 24, 2023.  Kabbani’s sentencing has not been scheduled at this time.

ISP Firearm Enforcement Grant Sees More Than 1,000 Compliance Checks

By David Slavik, The Chicago Times

February 25, 2023

SPRINGFIELD, IL – Illinois State Police announced that their firearm enforcement grants awarded to law enforcement agencies across Illinois saw 1,115 firearm enforcement checks and placed 472 individuals into compliance with the Firearm Owner Identification Card Act (FOID) in 2022.

According to ISP, enforcement grants were awarded to 30 law enforcement agencies to conduct enforcement operations for individuals whose FOID card had been revoked or suspended as a result of being prohibited by state or federal law.  The enforcement details focused on individuals who have become the subject of a Firearm Restraining Order or Clear and Present Danger, or received a criminal conviction.

“Local law enforcement agencies know their communities best and know who poses a threat,” said ISP Director Brendan F. Kelly. “Grants to local law enforcement agencies galvanizes our ability to keep firearms out of the hands of individuals who pose a significant threat to themselves or others.”

ISP started tracking firearm enforcement details in May 2019 through the end of 2022.  Between that time ISP conducted 1,455 details and placed 4,296 individuals into compliance by surrendering their FOID Cards, transferring all firearms out of their possession, and completing a Firearm Disposition Record.

The following law enforcement agencies were awarded firearm enforcement grants:

Aurora Police Department

Broadview Police Department

Champaign Police Department

Christian County Sheriff’s Office

Cicero Police Department

Cook County Sheriff

DeKalb police department

Harvey Police Department

Kane County Sheriff

Kankakee Police Department

Lincolnwood Police Department

Melrose Park Police Department

Moline Police Department

Montgomery Police Department

Morton grove Police Department

Naperville Police Department

Park Forest Police Department

Peru Police Department

Rolling Meadows Police Department

Posen Police Department

Putnam County Sheriff’s Office

Rockton Police Department

Romeoville Police Department

Schaumburg Police Department

South Beloit Police Department

Spring Valley Police Department

St. Charles Police Department

West Chicago Police Department

Woodridge Police Department

Zion Police Department

Approximately 190 Illinois Army National Guard Soldiers Mobilize for Overseas Mission

Illinois National Guard

February 08, 2023

PEORIA, IL – Approximately 190 Soldiers from the Illinois Army National Guard’s 1st Assault Helicopter Battalion, 106th Aviation Regiment, based in Peoria, and Company B, 935th Aviation Support Battalion, based in Kankakee, mobilized for an overseas mission to the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility in a ceremony Feb. 7 at the 182nd Airlift Wing, in Peoria.

Lt. Col. Jason Celletti, commander, 1st Assault Helicopter Battalion, 106th Aviation Regiment, thanks friends and families for their support during the mobilization ceremony Feb. 7 at the 182nd Airlift Wing, Peoria.

During the deployment the unit will provide aviation support to U.S. forces in the Middle East.

“In its 300-year history, every member of the Illinois National Guard has been always ready, always there to defend our homeland,” said Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker. “To the Soldiers of the 1st Assault Helicopter Battalion, 106th Aviation Regiment, you make us proud, including by standing at the forefront of innovation by field-testing the UH-60V Blackhawk helicopter. Your willingness helped enhance our military capabilities to take us into the future.”

 The UH-60V Blackhawk helicopter is an upgrade to the Blackhawk helicopter currently used by the U.S. Army, the UH-60L, with a comprehensive cockpit redesign which replaces the legacy analog instrumentation with a fully open, digital, and integrated avionic suite.

 Pritzker also thanked the family, friends, and employers of the 106th’s Soldiers.

 “Thank you to those who toiled in the background doing what is necessary to ensure the 106th was ready for this deployment,” he said. “The Illinois National Guard would not be able to complete its missions, from combat to emergency response, without your sacrifices. On behalf of Illinois, we are eternally grateful.”

 Illinois Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton told the Soldiers it was an honor to join family and friends to show her gratitude and commitment to supporting their service.

 “Thank you for everything you do for our nation, state and our communities,” she said. “Many of you deploying today have been down this road before. The 106th Aviation Battalion has been called to serve many times over the years for both its federal mission and its state mission, responding to emergencies wherever you are needed.”

 Stratton said for many of the Soldiers and their families, this deployment is a familiar turn on the road of life, but she wanted to remind the Soldiers and their families, whether it’s a first deployment or just one more deployment, there are resources available for both Soldiers and their families if they are in need.

 “Both during the deployment and after you return, these resources are in place to help you,” she said. “There are nearly 200 organizations with resources available to offer a no wrong door system of support. I’m proud that Illinois has a robust community dedicated to support our military community and our veterans.”

 Stratton said the most important resource is the Soldier.

 “You, your fellow Soldiers and families reach out to your family readiness groups, your chaplain network, your leadership team,” she said. “If you need assistance, reach out. We have seen what you contribute to our nation, and we want to give back.”

 Stratton offered her heartfelt gratitude to the deploying Soldiers and their families.

 “Being apart is not easy. I hope you draw on your faith to see you through,” she said. “Just know we stand with you and always will.”

 Maj. Gen. Rich Neely, the Adjutant General of Illinois, and Commander of the Illinois National Guard, thanked everyone for attending the ceremony.

 “We’ve recognized a lot of dignitaries and important people today,” he said. “But the most important people are the Soldiers standing in front of us who will deploy to the Middle East and support this mission and our country. The rest of us are just here to recognize and honor your amazing service and what you are about to do as you carry the flag of freedom around the world.”

 Neely reminded the Soldiers the Illinois National Guard celebrates its 300th year of service in 2023 and they are a part of that 300-year history.

 “It’s humbling if you think about the number of Soldiers and Airmen who have deployed to defend this great nation, both at home and abroad,” Neely said. “The 106th has led the innovation of the UH-60V, not only being the first unit to field the helicopter, but also the first unit to deploy with the helicopter.”

 Neely said the Illinois National Guard must continue to lead the nation with tech skills.

 “That’s exactly what you have done, and you set the bar very high,” he said. “We are very proud of each of you. You have answered the call because this mission is very important. Each of you truly epitomize the value of the Soldier and what it is to be a member of the National Guard, men and women who protect their neighbors and defend their nation.”

 Neely said family is important to the Soldiers’ success.

 “We could not do this job without their support,” he said. “To the families, you must continue, so it will be you who will pick up the load of your Soldier.”

 Maj. Gen. Rodney Boyd, Assistant Adjutant General – Army and Commander of the Illinois Army National Guard, challenged the deploying Soldiers to use the time overseas to better themselves.

 “Every now and then you get to do something amazing in your career. Today is that opportunity to go downrange and do something great for this nation,” Boyd said. “Challenge yourself to come back a better person. Most importantly, keep the lines of communication open to your family. Be safe in all you do but don’t get too comfortable. You’re ready for this mission.”

 Lt. Col. Jason Celletti, Commander of the 106th Aviation Regiment, said it has been nearly 20 years since the battalion left for its first deployment overseas.

 “Task Force Blackhorse has answered the call time and time again in the history of this battalion,” he said. “I couldn’t be more proud of the professionalism of the Soldiers here today.”

 Celletti said he couldn’t guarantee there will be no challenges throughout the deployment, but is confident in the unit’s ability to overcome any challenge.

 “The Blackhorse can work through any challenge, as we have the past two years and many more times before then,” he said.

 Celletti thanked the families for their support.

 “You all are a vital part of the Blackhorse team. I urge you to reach out to the family readiness groups and the other resources available,” he said. “We are all in this together.”

Lemont Mayor John Egofske to Replace Durkin in 82nd District

By Frank Conklin, The Chicago Times

February 6, 2023

SPRINGFIELD, IL – Lemont Mayor John Egofske to replace Illinois House Republican Leader Jim Durkin as the new Illinois 82nd District State Representative.

“After 27 years in corporate business as a job creator, I look forward to working with anyone, from any party, who shares my goals to lower property taxes, address crime, and keep jobs in Illinois.” Egofske said in a statement.

Durkin announced his resignation after November’s election but refused to blame his leadership for the dismal election results.

Egofske has served as the mayor of Lemont since 2017.  The 82nd District includes areas of Cook, Will, and DuPage Counties.