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Former Cincinnati nonprofit VP sentenced to 3 years in prison for wire fraud, identity theft

Southern District of Ohio, Press Release

The former vice president of a Cincinnati nonprofit and manager of a purported staffing corporation was sentenced in U.S. District Court to 36 months in prison for wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.

Teela Gilbert, 37, of Cincinnati, served as the vice president, academic affairs adviser and office manager of Hope 4 Change, a nonprofit organization that provided housing and care for adults with developmental disabilities, drug addiction problems and mental disorders.

She also managed the operations of Black Wall Street Cooperative, a corporation registered with the state of Ohio that purported to create employment and business opportunities for low-income individuals.

Gilbert and co-defendant Barry Rene Isaacs – the founder, owner, CEO and president of Hope 4 Change and founder of Black Wall Street Cooperative – induced payments for false invoices to a company.

Specifically, Gilbert submitted more than 30 fraudulent invoices totaling approximately $246,000 for services not actually performed by Black Wall Street Cooperative. Her fraudulent invoices named individuals who did not work for the corporation, including the identity of one woman who had died in 2019.

According to co-defendant Isaacs’s court documents, Hope 4 Change withheld FICA taxes from its 120 to 180 employees’ paychecks but did not pay over the employment taxes to the IRS for five quarters in late 2013 and 2014. Isaacs also fraudulently applied for an auto loan and credit card using someone else’s social security account number.

Isaacs caused Hope 4 Change to spend thousands of dollars for clothing, massages, beauty care, travel and personal vehicles for Isaacs and Gilbert and their family. He was sentenced in November 2021 to 48 months in prison.

Kenneth L. Parker, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio; Karen Wingerd, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, Cincinnati Field Office; and the Social Security Administration Office of Inspector General announced the sentence imposed by U.S District Judge Matthew W. McFarland. Assistant United States Attorney Ebunoluwa A. Taiwo is representing the United States in this case.

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