REPORT: Feds probe Obama pal over $433,000 kickback scheme


Dr. Eric Whitaker, a close friend of President Barack Obama, acknowledged that he is cooperating with federal authorities working on a $433,000 kickback scheme at the state public health agency he once led, but he said he was not involved in the alleged crimes.

Whitaker declined an interview request Thursday but released a statement following the indictment of Quinshaunta R. Golden, who was his chief of staff at the Illinois Department of Public Health. Golden is accused of conspiring with state grant recipients to divert federal money into her own pockets and then trying to cover it up.

"I had no firsthand knowledge of the activities outlined in this indictment and was not involved in any way," Whitaker said in the statement. "As requested by the U.S. attorney, I have been fully cooperating with the investigation into these matters."

There was no indication in the indictment that Whitaker knew of the wrongdoing. Asked Thursday if Whitaker is a target in the probe, James Lewis, U.S. attorney for the Central District of Illinois, offered the standard response of refusing to venture beyond details of the Golden indictment.
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