This may be something for Dick Durbin and Jan Schakowsky to look at, as they both were involved with this “charity” From Peter Heimlich

March 19, 2014 § Leave a comment

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Updated February 27, 2014

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In 2005/06, current U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who was close to the Save-A-Life Foundation (SALF) for years, personally arranged a $174,000 public and private funds contract with SALF founder/president Carol J. Spizzirri. In exchange, her organization was supposed to provide first aid training for 18,000 Chicago Public Schools (CPS) students. However, CPS has no records that any training took place and has stated that the program was Duncan’s responsibility. Duncan is now hiding from questions. Click here for details/supporting documents and my January 5, 2011 investigations request to Chicago Public Schools Inspector General James Sullivan — PMH


Media reports about the Save-A-Life Foundation (SALF) scandal & the Annabel Melongo case

Compiled by Peter M. Heimlich

From Illinois senator seeks answers on possible $9 million misappropriation — Lawmaker says the state attorney general’s office is not responding to his requests for updates on the investigation into a nonprofit’s activities by Erin Murphy, Dubuque Telegraph Herald, June 26, 2013:

Since its establishment in 1993, the (nonprofit Save-A-Life Foundation) pledged to teach school children first aid and emergency response practices. Despite receiving nearly $9 million to fund the program, however, very few records of students being taught have been found.

…(Sen. Tim) Bivins has attempted to learn about the attorney general’s investigation into the nonprofit, which reportedly began sometime in 2010. Bivins is frustrated by the lack of information offered by the attorney general’s office.

..Bivins’ last letter to the attorney general’s office asks about a $25,000 grant it awarded Save a Life in fiscal year 2003. The grant was intended to fund the teaching of first aid to students in eight school districts, but when asked about the program none of the districts could recall any association with Save a Life or its program.

“Does Attorney General Madigan intend to refer the $25,000 grant your office awarded to SALF to her ongoing investigation of SALF?” Bivins asked in his letter.

Click here for Sen. Bivins’s correspondence to date with Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office which includes details about the eight IL school districts where thousands of students were supposed to have received first aid training classes, funded by the $25,000 grant from her office arranged by former SALF lobbyist Bennett Krause, who’s now an IL state employee.

For a quick catch-up on the SALF scandal, watch/read stories below underlined and headlined in red. Stories about the Melongo case are underlined and headlined in green
Click here to go to the latest news stories
Click here for a galllery photos of prominent public officials with SALF executives Carol J. Spizzirri and Rita Mullins
Click here for documents I obtained via FOIA about the IL Attorney General’s (ongoing) investigation of SALF

11/16+17/06: The Maneuver Parts I + II by Chuck Goudie, ABC7 Chicago – click here for text version

is one of my heroes.”
 
… On June 29, 2009, the Save-A-Life Foundation closed down. And Carol Spizzirri came to San Marcos. I have confirmed that she and a former treasurer of Save-A-Life are living at Palomar Estates West, a mobile home community in San Marcos.
 
…On May 18, 1992 – four months before the fatal accident – Christina filed for an order of protection against her mother. A neighbor who lives four houses away was willing to be Christina’s primary caretaker. The complaint stated that Spizzirri had struck Christina “on several occasions and threatened her on many occasions.” The order of protection, granted the same month, barred Spizzirri from seeing her daughter at several locations such as school and work. Christina “fears her mother will attempt to harass her or retaliate,” said the complaint. Spizzirri asserted, among other things, that she could use “reasonable force to discipline a child” who needed medical attention.

 

 

2/17/11: Gery Chico Save A Life Foundation Connection: What Was His Role At Troubled Charity? by Will Guzzardi, Huffington Post

According to documents obtained by Huffington Post Chicago, mayoral candidate Gery Chico appears to have been closely involved with a scandal-plagued high-profile charity.

Though the exact details of Chico’s involvement with the now-shuttered Save A Life Foundation are not yet known, documents state that he was on the foundation’s board of directors near the height of its alleged fraudulent activity. Puzzlingly, in the face of those documents, the Chico campaign has persistently denied that he was ever on the board.

…Save A Life lashed out with defamation lawsuits that ultimately failed,
 as did the charity itself, which shut its doors in the summer of 2009.

The collapse of the foundation was politically uncomfortable for a number of major figures in Illinois, from President Barack Obama to now-Education Secretary Arne Duncan, who were connected to it in some way.

6/22/11: Chico’s confirmation as state school boss hits snag by Dave McKinney, Chicago Sun-Times:

Former Chicago mayoral candidate Gery Chico’s appointment as chairman of the state Board of Education hit a snag Wednesday amid GOP questions over his ties to a now-defunct non-profit organization.

Based on issues raised by a Texas blogger, Senate Republicans put the brakes on Quinn’s appointment, asking that Chico personally appear before a Senate panel to explain his relationship with Save A Life Foundation, a charity that is undergoing a probe within Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office.

..Reached late Wednesday, Chico said he was not aware of any wrongdoing by the organization and first became aware of it as chairman of the Chicago Public Schools board.

6/22/11: Committee holds up 2 of Quinn’s appointees by Chris Wetterich, Springfield (IL) State Journal-Register

Two of Gov. Pat Quinn’s appointees were held up in a Senate committee Wednesday, including his nomination of Gery Chico to chair the State Board of Education.
The governor’s office predicted they would have no problem being con­firmed later. Sen. Tim Bivins, R-Dixon, said he asked that Chico’s appointment be held so that he could be asked whether he participated as a board member in the now-defunct Save A Life Founda­tion, a charitable organization that has faced media scrutiny over whether it trained as many children in first-aid as it said it did. Chico was an unsuccess­ful candidate for Chicago mayor ear­lier this year.

“There’s some indication that he was on the board at some time. There’s also an indication that he has denied that. I don’t know. But we need to look at it further,” Bivins said, emphasizing that he was not accusing Chico of wrongdoing. “There’s millions of dol­lars that went to this foundation from not only the state, but from federal funds also…I’d just like a clarification.”

6/22/11: Lawmakers vote to cut their pay again by Monique Garcia and Ray Long, Chicago Tribune

Meanwhile, the Senate held off on confirming Quinn’s appointment of former Chicago mayoral candidate Gery Chico to lead the State Board of Education.

Republicans asked that the matter be put off until Chico can come to Springfield to answer questions about his connections to Save-a-Life, a nonprofit group that critics contend wasted millions in government money.

Chico said he has not had any contact with the defunct nonprofit in more than a decade and that his only involvement was trying to ensure Chicago Public Schools students learned first aid techniques.

“I’m wide open and look forward to a discussion,” Chico said.

6/23/11: Gery Chico Save A Life Foundation Connection Delays His Appointment To State Board Of Ed by Will Guzzardi, Huffington Post

 
An archived copy of the foundation’s website also listed (Chico) on the “National Board of Directors” in 2003.

During the campaign, Chico’s office repeatedly denied to HuffPost Chicago that he had served with SALF. “That link you sent is wrong. Gery was not on that board,” spokeswoman Brooke Anderson said at the time, when presented with a copy of the document.

Chico made a similar statement to the Chicago Tribune Wednesday, saying he hadn’t had contact with the foundation in “more than a decade.”

If true — that is, if he didn’t serve on the board — Save A Life could be in some serious trouble. Maura Possley, deputy press secretary for the Illinois Attorney General’s office, said in February that misrepresenting the Board of Directors on an annual report amounts to perjury, a Class 3 felony.

The Save A Life Foundation was founded by Carol Spizzirri with the stated purpose of preparing schoolchildren for emergencies. Spizzirri often repeated that her inspiration to form the foundation was her daughter, who was killed in a hit-and-run accident when first responders didn’t know the techniques to stem her bleeding. An investigative report in 2006 showed that her story about her daughter was false, she herself wasn’t an R.N. as she’d claimed, and her organization had apparently trained far fewer students than it had claimed. That investigation ultimately led to the organization’s collapse.

Chico was, by his own admission, a supporter of the organization in 1999: as president of the Chicago school board, he signed a resolution praising SALF and certifying that it had trained thousands of CPS students. But he wasn’t the only one to support SALF: politicians as formidable as Barack Obama andArne Duncan were close to the group.

11/10/11: Bivins scrutinizes questionable uses of state funds by Emily Coleman, Sauk Valley Telegraph

Save-A-Life Foundation is one of a couple organizations (Senator) Bivins is looking at…“Where’s our money going?” Bivins said. “Where’s our tax dollars going? Where did it go?…As taxpayers, we have a right to know where the money’s going.”

The former Lee County sheriff wants investigations and audits of these groups, he said.

(Gery) Chico agreed.

“I think if there’s probable cause for wrongdoing, especially if it involves public money, there ought to be an investigation, sure,” Chico said.

3/14/12: Applications of Illinois Eavesdropping Act still being debated – A whistleblower’s story by Susan Johnson, Rock River Times (Rockford, IL)

Problems with the Illinois Eavesdropping Act have attracted the attention of several different groups and individuals. Peter M. Heimlich is a small business owner in suburban Atlanta who does original reporting on his blog, The Sidebar. His research about the career of his father – the doctor known for “the Heimlich maneuver” – has resulted in dozens of media exposés, including an ABC 20/20 report by Brian Ross. Recently, he became involved in another case that involves a whistleblower and a now-discredited charity.
7/30/12: Ill. judge declares state’s eavesdropping law unconstitutional by Amanda Simmons, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

An Illinois judge ruled last week that the state’s eavesdropping law – one of the broadest restrictions on audio recording in the nation – is unconstitutional.

The decision granted a request for dismissal made by Annabel K. Melongo, a 39-year old woman who faced criminal charges under the Illinois Eavesdropping Act….Melongo, who is representing herself in court, recorded three phone calls with a clerk at the Cook County Court Reporter’s office in Illinois without consent and posted them on her watchdog website in 2010, incurring six charges of eavesdropping.

…The conversations she recorded involved other charges that have been brought against her for computer tampering in 2006, when she worked as a computer programmer for a scandal-ridden and now defunct non-profit organization, the Save-a-Life Foundation. Melongo’s motion to dismiss those charges is currently pending.

11/7+8/12: Jailed For Recording Law Enforcement Parts I & 2 by Patrick Fazio, NBC2 Terre Haute, IN (former SALF employee Annabel Melongo)

 

3/14/13: You Paid For It: Where’s the money? by Steve Staeger, WCIA-TV (CBS affiliate), Springfield, IL


Three years after a state-funded not for profit dissolved, there are still questions about the group’s finances.

The Save-A-Life Foundation was founded in 1993 with a mission to teach kids and adults more about emergency life saving maneuvers.

The group’s founder, Carol Spizzirri, decided to start the group after her daughter died in a car accident. Spizzirri claimed it was a hit-and-run accident and the first responders on the scene didn’t know lifesaving procedures.

But published reports in the years to follow would reveal a different story.   Spizzirri’s daughter was in a car accident, but it wasn’t a hit and run.  It was a single car accident.  Her blood alcohol level was above the legal limit at the time of the crash.  And she didn’t die at the scene.  She died later at the hospital.

Reports also questioned Spizzirri’s qualifications. She claimed to be a registered nurse, but records couldn’t be found in Illinois or Wisconsin, where she attended school.

And though the Save-A-Life Foundation was educating students, records weren’t kept to back up the claims of training “hundreds of thousands” of children. 

Amid questions about the organization’s mission and finances in 2009, the not-for-profit dissolved with the state of Illinois. 

In its 16 years of existence, the Save-A-Life Foundation got close to $9 million in funding from both federal and state government. 

And as the organization was looking to move its operation statewide in 2003, it got $200,000 in state grants to buy a building on Capitol Ave. in Springfield. 

When the foundation dissolved in 2009, it sold the Springfield building for $109,750, according to tax records. But the group did not list the sale in its final filing with the Attorney General’s Charitable Trust Bureau. 

WCIA 3 obtained documents revealing correspondence between Save-A-Life officials and the Illinois Attorney General. In the months following the dissolution,  the AG repeatedly asks for documentation on the money obtained thought the sale. Spizzirri never provides any accounting of the money.



4/12/13: Durbin, Obama linked to defunct Chicago nonprofit under investigation by Patrick Howley, The Daily Caller

Democratic Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin urged a Senate subcommittee chairman to appropriate $1 million in federal funds for a Chicago nonprofit that is now under investigation for potential fraud, according to documents obtained by The Daily Caller.

Durbin’s relationship with Chicago’s embattled Save-A-Life Foundation began in the mid-1990s and continued for at least several years, with Durbin even being listed as a member of the foundation’s “Advisory Council,” according to the documents.

President Barack Obama also had a relationship with Save-A-Life during his tenure as an Illinois state senator and U.S. senator, meeting with the organization’s founder and earning praise from the Foundation as a legislator who was “always supportive” of its publicly-funded efforts.

6/25/13: Email links Obama to embattled nonprofit by Erin Murphy, Dubuque Telegraph Herald

An email sent in 2007 by an official at an Illinois-based non-profit currently under a state investigation suggests Barack Obama, then a U.S. senator, attempted to help secure $10 million for the embattled organization…White House media contacts did not respond to inquiries from the Telegraph Herald.

6/26/13: Illinois senator seeks answers on possible $9 million misappropriation — Lawmaker says the state attorney general’s office is not responding to his requests for updates on the investigation into a nonprofit’s activities by Erin Murphy, Dubuque Telegraph Herald

WDoes Attorney General Madigan intend to refer the $25,000 grant your office awarded to SALF to her ongoing investigation of SALF?” Bivins asked in his letter.

He isn’t getting many answers.

Bivins, a Republican in the Illinois Senate who represents northwest Illinois, including Jo Daviess County, has been pressing the office of state Attorney General Lisa Madigan for information on its investigation into the Illinois-based Save a Life Foundation, a nonprofit that received nearly $9 million in state and federal funding for a program whose services, it appears, were never rendered. Bivins also has inquired about a $25,000 grant that the attorney general’s office awarded to Save a Life, also for a program that apparently was never executed.

Since its establishment in 1993, the foundation pledged to teach school children first aid and emergency response practices. Despite receiving nearly $9 million to fund the program, however, very few records of students being taught have been found.

…Bivins became involved in the Save a Life saga in 2011, when Gov. Pat Quinn nominated Gery Chico to be chair of the state education board. Bivins learned Chico had possible ties to the foundation.

So, as his party’s spokesperson for the Executive Appointments Committee, which reviews all gubernatorial appointments to state boards and commissions, Bivins blocked Chico’s nomination.

…Bivins’ last letter to the attorney general’s office asks about a $25,000 grant it awarded Save a Life in fiscal year 2003. The grant was intended to fund the teaching of first aid to students in eight school districts, but when asked about the program none of the districts could recall any association with Save a Life or its program.

“Does Attorney General Madigan intend to refer the $25,000 grant your office awarded to SALF to her ongoing investigation of SALF?” Bivins asked in his letter.

Bivins said he has received no response to that letter. 

…The Illinois attorney general’s office did not respond to multiple inquiries from the Telegraph Herald

6/27/13: Email exchange: Obama tried to steer $10 million to Chicago nonprofit under investigation by Patrick Howley, The Daily Caller

1/4/14: Annabel Melongo eavesdropping case back in court Jan. 14 by Jim Hagerty, Rock River Times (Rockford, IL)

1/11/14: Arguments set in another Illinois eavesdropping case by Chris Dettro, Springfield Journal-Register

Arguments in a case that could further invalidate Illinois’ eavesdropping law are scheduled Tuesday before the state Supreme Court in Chicago.

…The wiretapping law was declared unconstitutional in a state court ruling in 2012; the Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal.

…But (Cook Count State’s Attorney Anita) Alvarez is still appealing the dismissal of the eavesdropping case against Annabel Melongo, an immigrant from Cameroon who recorded a public official, rather than a police officer.

1/15/14: Courthouse News Service article about oral arguments heard the previous day by the IL Supreme Court re: the State’s appeal of the dismissal by a Chicago judge of charges brought against Annabel Melongo under the IL Eavesdropping Act. Click here for the video and audio posted on the website of the IL Supreme Court. 

The (IL Supreme Court) is considering the constitutionality of the law after a woman prosecuted under it was incarcerated for over 18 months before her trial ended with a hung jury.

Annabel Melongo was once an employee of the Save-A-Life Foundation, an Illinois charity that has been accused of dishonesty or financial impropriety. After secretly recording her phone conversations with a Cook County court reporter and posting those tapes on a personal website, she was arrested in 2006 for violating the Illinois Eavesdropping Act, a law that requires a person to obtain the consent of anyone whose conversation he records.

 
 

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