Pastor Robbie Wilkerson of Chicago’s New Birth Christian Center and his wife Tasha have pled guilty to defrauding a summer food program designed to help low income children.
According to court documents, Robbie Wilkerson pled guilty to wire fraud and money laundering; Tasha Wilkerson pled guilty to theft of government funds.
The New Birth Christian Center operated the food program in 2008, 2009 and 2010, and was one of the largest recipients of Summer Program funds in Illinois,. For the 2010 program year, Robbie Wilkerson, submitted a total operational budget to the ISBE of $446,440, including $250,000 for food and $26,400 for administrative costs. The budget represented that NBCC would administer the summer program at 34 sites in the Chicago area.
Instead, Robbie Wilkerson admitted that he submitted or caused to be submitted, approximately $714,000 in false and fraudulent claims to ISBE, more than $250,000 above the budgeted amount. The submitted claims represented that approximately 267,000 meals were served to low-income children, when in fact, fewer than 100,000 meals were actually served, and as much as $450,000 was used for the defendants’ personal use.
Robbie and Tasha Wilkerson admitted that they embezzled more than $100,000 from the program, including more than $60,000 in direct payments to themselves, at the same time Tasha was paid as an employee of Youth Outreach Services, Chicago, as a prevention coordinator. In addition, more than $10,000 was given directly to relatives; $20,000 in cash and other withdrawals from NBCC’s bank account; $46,000 to purchase real estate in Chicago; and, $37,109 to purchase a residence in Memphis Tenn., for Robbie Wilkerson’s parents.