Coleman construction charged with misrepresenting status as minority-owned business

Federal authorities say Lester Coleman received $2.75M in contracts for his firm from the Chicago Housing Authority, then subcontracted the work to companies that are not minority-owned

TRD CHICAGO /
Feb.February 18, 2020 02:00 PM
Clockwise from top left: 6449 N. Washtenaw Avenue, 6330 N. Oakley Avenue, 4640 S. Keating Avenue, 3983 S. Lake Park and Owner of Coleman Development Corp., Lester Coleman (Credit: Apartments and Coleman Development)

Clockwise from top left: 6449 N. Washtenaw Avenue, 6330 N. Oakley Avenue, 4640 S. Keating Avenue, 3983 S. Lake Park and Owner of Coleman Development Corp., Lester Coleman (Credit: Apartments and Coleman Development)

Coleman Development Corporation calls itself a “small minority-owned construction company,” but federal authorities say that did not extend to actual work performed.

The company’s owner, Lester Coleman, has been charged with misrepresenting the Englewood-based firm in order to win $2.75 million in contracts with the Chicago Housing Authority, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

Coleman Development subcontracted nearly all of its projects to businesses that are not minority-owned, according to the Sun-Times, citing the U.S. Attorney’s Office indictment. The allegations cover a period of time from 2010 to 2018.

Coleman also faces three counts of wire fraud and paying wages below required federal prevailing wage. Each count is punishable up to 20 years in federal prison but Coleman’s arraignment hasn’t been set. He did not immediately return a call for comment, according to the Sun-Times.

The Housing Authority requires that contractors have between 25 percent and 40 percent minority participation, which Coleman falsely represented his company would follow, the nine-page indictment states.

The nearly $2 million in contracts with the CHA was for rehab or construction work on six apartment complexes: 6330 N. Oakley Avenue, 6449 N. Washtenaw Avenue, 4640 S. Keating Avenue, 5354 S. Kolin Avenue, 6000 N. Monticello Avenue, 4918 N. Ridgeway Avenue. Another property involved a computer lab conversion project at 3983 S. Lake Park.

Last August, Related Midwest announced it was leading a venture with Magellan Development, Sterling Bay, Clayco and others to create a loan fund to help minority and women-owned firms expand their contracting abilities. [Sun-Times] — Jacqueline Flynn


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