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Project Manager at Southern Illinois University Pleads Guilty to Lying to Federal Agents

On April 17, 2015, Kwa Mister pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court, East St Louis, Illinois, to making a false statement to federal agents. Mister was the Program Manager for the Highway Construction Preparatory Training Program (HCPTP) at Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville, Illinois (SIUE). SIUE had entered into an intergovernmental agreement with the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) to be the fiscal agent for the HCPTP, which is a program designed to help ensure that a diversified, properly trained workforce is available for road construction projects in Illinois.

An investigation and audit uncovered over a dozen purchase orders, contracts and sole source justification forms concerning the procurement of services totaling $85,500 from Phoenix Support Services, owned by Mister’s mother. IDOT was billed and reimbursed SIUE for these costs. The procurement of the contracts with Phoenix Support Services was initiated by Mister, who procured the services for sole source contracts, concealing the family relationship and the potential conflict of interest from SIUE. 

When the propriety of the contracts with Phoenix Support Services was under investigation, Mister lied to SIUE officials as to whether the owner of Phoenix Support Services was his mother. Mister also lied to an OIG agent about whether he had provided false information to SIUE.

We are conducting this investigation jointly with the U.S. Department of Labor, OIG.