Activist accused of state fraud

Activist accused of state fraud

There are 2 comments on the Chicago Tribune story from Jul 13, 2007, titled Activist accused of state fraud. In it, Chicago Tribune reports that:

SPRINGFIELD - A well-known advocate for minority businesses in the Chicago area was indicted Thursday on federal charges that he bilked the state out of more than $170,000 by falsely claiming he helped minority businesses seek state contracts. Authorities said Omar Shareef, 48, falsified invoices for consulting work he never performed and used most of the proceeds to pay for his Palos Park home and a trip to Disney World in Florida. Shareef declined to answer questions about the charges, but he defended himself as a vigorous advocate for minority business owners. He said he has helped hundreds of African-American contractors negotiate the complicated process of being certified as a disadvantaged business enterprise. 'I don't really know a lot about it,' Shareef said about the criminal charges. 'I did hear some investigation was going on.' Shareef is president and owner of African American Contractors Association, which sponsors a well-attended forum for minority contractors each summer in conjunction with Rev. Jesse Jackson's Rainbow/PUSH organization. This year's event, called African American Contractors Day, will be held Saturday at Rainbow/PUSH headquarters. Shareef, who also has worked as a dry-wall contractor, has been convicted twice in Cook County on charges related to false records. In 1999 he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor theft for overbilling Chicago Public Schools by more than $3,000 for repair work at an elementary school, court records show. He admitted submitting false invoices claiming his workers had done 146 hours of work, when they spent just 13 hours on the job. He was sentenced to 18 months of probation, records show. Shareef also was convicted of obstruction of justice in 1998 for paying someone $50 to file a false police report. He was sentenced to 30 months of probation. Shareef is known for his aggressive lobbying efforts, pushing government officials to hire more black-owned businesses on major construction projects such as the Dan Ryan Expressway reconstruction. In 1992 he used a truck blockade to shut down construction at the DuSable Museum of African-American History, saying there weren't enough minority subcontractors on a $3 million addition. Museum officials denied the charges, saying Shareef was a 'disgruntled contractor who lost a bid.' Read more

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Elburn, IL

#1 Aug 22, 2007
I think all advocates should be careful with trying to work within a system that is unfair.

Springfield, IL

#2 Sep 9, 2007
Starting with the theft of Michigan Avenue (magnificent mile)during slavery.....injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.....national transportation departments have denied contractual access for far too long......give the guy more bang for our tax bucks......

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