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Jury begins deliberations in fraud trial of Chicago couple

SPRINGFIELD — A federal jury has started deliberating on whether a Chicago businessman and his wife stole $3.4 million they received in Illinois state grant funds.

Leon and Karin Dingle are charged with conspiracy, mail fraud and money laundering in a Justice Department investigation that has already yielded four guilty pleas.

Deliberations began Wednesday morning following seven weeks of testimony and two days of closing arguments.

The government claims the Dingles conspired with Illinois Department of Public Health officials and others to convert millions of dollars to personal use out of $11 million handed out for AIDS and cancer-awareness campaigns from 2004 to 2010.

Attorneys for the 77-year-old Leon Dingle and his 75-year-old wife say the couple failed only in trusting longtime bookkeeper Jacquelyn Kilpatrick. Kilpatrick has pleaded guilty and awaits sentencing.