SPRINGFIELD -- A former top aide at the Illinois Department of Public Health pleaded guilty Thursday in federal court to bribery and taking kickbacks in connection with $13 million in state grants and contracts and to obstructing a grand jury investigation.
Quinshaunta R. Golden, who served under then-Public Health Director Dr. Eric Whitaker, a close friend of President Barack Obama, faces 10 years in prison when she is sentenced Aug. 18, officials said.
Whitaker has not been accused of wrongdoing.
According to court documents, the 45-year-old Homewood resident acknowledged that she used her position from mid-2006 to late 2008 to direct $11 million in state grants for breast, cervical and prostate cancer, HIV and AIDS, and emergency preparedness to three nonprofit organizations then controlled by Leon Dingle Jr.
Prosecutors say Golden got a person identified as Individual A hired as a consultant to Dingle and to a company identified as Security Firm A.
Approximately $773,000 went to Individual A, of which Golden required half be paid to her. Additionally, Golden secured $2 million in contract funds to be paid to Security Firm A for background checks of nursing home residents to screen for criminal offenders and required Individual A to pay Golden kickbacks for each investigation the firm conducted.
Authorities said Golden acknowledged that in early 2012 she attempted to persuade Individual A to lie about the scheme and to conceal the truth from the individual's attorney and to create a false story about the individual's use of the grant and contract money.
The government has agreed to recommend the court impose a sentence at the lower end of the advisory guidelines -- no more than 121 months.
In a related but separate case, Dingle and his wife Karin, both of Chicago, and two associates, Jacquelyn Kilpatrick and Edmond Clemons, both of Phoenix, Ill., face charges they used millions of dollars in Public Health grant funds for personal expenses. They are scheduled to stand trial on June 3.
Golden was chief of staff at the Public Health Department from 2003 to 2008, when she took a position at the University of Chicago Medical Center.