Afternoon Edition: Citi VP scammed older clients to fund horror movies, lawsuit says

Today’s update is about an eight-minute read that will brief you on the day’s biggest stories.

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Citibank’s South Michigan Avenue branch downtown, where Helen Grace Caldwell formerly worked as a wealth adviser. Caldwell is accused of persuading older clients to invest in her movie projects.

Jonah Newman / Injustice Watch

Good afternoon, Chicago. ✶

Cloud Gate, or “the Bean,” has always looked a little extraterrestrial, hasn’t it?

The massive, reflective public art piece has been wowing and mystifying audiences since its installation in 2004.

Grainger Plaza, where the Bean is nestled, is also nearing the end of its second decade, so the city is taking time for some park maintenance, closing off public access to the Bean potentially until spring 2024.

But local photographer Nick Ulivieri managed to snap a photo of the sculpture amid the construction rubble. In the photo, the Bean looks like a spaceship that “just crash landed on Millennium Park,” as Ulivieri put it in a social media post.

You’d be forgiven for thinking this is another attempt to visit Chicago by the same aliens who crashed their spaceship onto Soldier Field. 👽

Before we get too deep into conspiracy theories, here are the true stories you need to know this afternoon.

⏱️: A 7-minute read

— Matt Moore, newsletter reporter (@MattKenMoore)


TODAY’S TOP STORY

Citi VP, wealth adviser in Chicago accused of steering older clients into money-losing film projects

Reporting by David Jackson | Injustice Watch

A wealth adviser’s alleged scam: By day, Helen Grace Caldwell was a wealth adviser and a vice president in the downtown Chicago offices of Citibank. She also was a horror movie producer. Caldwell, 58, funded her film career in part by persuading her older Citibank clients to invest their savings in her film ventures, an alleged fraud costing them as much as $1 million, according to a lawsuit filed against the bank and Caldwell by the Cook County public guardian’s office.

Bank could be in hot water: “If the public guardian’s court allegations are accurate, the bank is at fault here in not exercising appropriate oversight over their advisers. That is clearly wrong,” said Rohit Deshpandé, a Harvard Business School professor. Citibank annually approved Caldwell’s outside film company business during the same years the suit says she was using her client’s funds, records show.

Financial exploitation of older people an epidemic: Growing numbers of financial professionals are preying on their older clients from behind the glass doors of banks, investment houses and wealth management companies. Fraud against older Americans in investment schemes accounted for nearly one-third of the $3.1 billion in financial exploitation nationwide last year, up from less than 10% three years ago, according to FBI data. Reported losses from investment scams against older Americans have increased tenfold in the last three years, to nearly $1 billion in 2022.

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WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON?

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Corey McPherrin, the newsman who has been a fan favorite for decades, will be on the air for his last broadcast Friday night.

Owen Ziliak/Sun-Times

Corey McPherrin retires: The TV newsman chose Chicago over network TV more than 30 years ago. His last broadcast for Fox 32 is tonight. “I’m in love with the city and always have been,” he told the Sun-Times.

  • Former DCFS worker indicted in fraud scheme: A former state of Illinois social worker is accused of arranging a scheme to pay fake foster care clients more than $3 million in state funding, some of which the worker received in kickbacks and spent for personal uses, including gambling.
  • Life sentences for 4 Gangster Disciples leaders: A sweeping federal investigation of a crew of Gangster Disciples leaders ended Thursday with a life sentence for a Naperville man who is among five regional and national leaders of the gang sentenced this year on racketeering charges.
  • Cop involved in shooting of man suspended: The Chicago Police Board voted Thursday to suspend former Officer Bernard Butler for one year without pay for his role in the 2020 shooting of an unarmed man during an arrest at a Red Line station.
  • New bill targets food deserts statewide: Gov. J.B. Pritzker earlier today signed legislation that will attempt to combat the state’s food deserts by sending $20 million to grocers to open and expand stores in underserved rural towns and low-income neighborhoods.
  • Chicago hotel workers OK new contract: Chicago hotel workers at Marriott, Hilton and Hyatt-operated hotels have ratified a new contract two weeks before the existing agreement expires Aug. 31. The agreement raises the minimum wage for non-tipped workers to $25 an hour, up $2 from the previous contract.
  • Celebrating 10 years of ‘Acid Rap’: Through Sunday, the WNDR Museum will showcase an exhibit commemorating the 10-year anniversary of “Acid Rap,” Chicago artist Chance the Rapper’s seminal mixtape. The work jumpstarted Chance’s career and was part of a new wave of Chicago rap that transformed the genre.
  • Illinoisans hooked on copi: Illinois State Fair attendees this year have chowed down on various forms of copi. Better known until last year as Asian carp, the rebranded fish is being eaten in the forms of deep-fried copi rangoon, sliders, empanadas and more.

WEEKEND PLANS 🎉

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Ribfest in North Center, as seen in summer 2012. The fest is still going strong, kicking off this year’s fun at 5 p.m. Friday.

Al Podgorski/Sun-Times file

🐷 Ribfest
Tonight, 5-10 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, noon-10 p.m.
📍 Lincoln from Irving Park to Berteau
Admission: $10, $20 (families) suggested donations.
Come out for this three-day barbecue fest and enjoy good food, two music stages with local bands and family activities to keep kids entertained.

🐝 North Lawndale National Honeybee Day
Saturday, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
📍North Lawndale Employment Network, 1111 S. Homan Ave
Enjoy a day of honeybee-related activities, including food, music, face-painting, a green space installation and much more. You can also build bee boxes and learn about North Lawndale’s bees.
Admission: Free

🎨 Glenwood Avenue Arts Fest
Friday, 6-10 p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m. - 9 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. - 7 p.m.
📍6900-7000 Glenwood and 1300-1500 W. Morse.
Admission: Free
This street fest will feature more than 120 artists, music on two stages, kids art activities, demonstrations and bites from local restaurants.

🍽️ Jollof Festival
Saturday, 2 p.m.
📍The Promontory, 5311 S. Lake Park Ave
Admission: From $25
Try plenty of varieties of this dish, native to many countries in West Africa. Festivalgoers will also get to help pick the winner of the “Jollof Wars.”

🛩️ Chicago Air and Water Show
Saturday and Sunday, 10:30 a.m. - 3 p.m.
📍 North Avenue Beach and along the lake from Fullerton to Oak
Admission: Free
Flying machines will soar during the annual roundup of military aircraft flyovers and boat and parachutist demonstrations.


BRIGHT ONE ✨

A pair of dancers on the TV show “Soul Train” wear yellow shirts, bellbottom jeans and brown platform shoes.

Dancers on the TV show “Soul Train” come down the “Soul Train” line. | Soul Train Holdings, LLC.

Soul Train Holdings LLC

Love, peace and ‘Soul Train’: On Aug. 17, 1970, the ‘hippest trip in America’ started in Chicago

Reporting by Arionne Nettles

“Soul Train” was the place of love, peace, and of course, soul. Broadcast nationally from 1971 through 2006, it was one of the longest-running TV shows in history — with the longevity of this cultural phenomenon attributed to creator and longtime host Don Cornelius.

Before becoming a nationally syndicated show, “Soul Train” began as a local show in Chicago. And Thursday marked 53 years since it aired for the very first time.

Back in 1970, young people lined up around the block of the Chicago Board of Trade building to be part of the first airing of the dance show. They’d pack the tiny WCIU studio, along with mostly Black creatives who were invited to showcase their talents on TV.

Artist Michael Griffin was one of those creatives. He was part of a group of designers and models named Les Ménage. Being on the scene is how he got to know Clinton Ghent — a Juilliard-trained dancer and choreographer who grew up with Cornelius. Cornelius tasked Ghent with finding hip people for the show, which was an extremely essential role. Ghent invited Griffin’s group on to “Soul Train” to model their clothing designs.

Ericka Blount Danois, author of “Love, Peace And Soul,” says the show allowed the city’s young people, like Griffin, to become the show’s stars. And that was part of the magic.

“It was in this small space, like 10-by-10, no air conditioning,” she said. “But these kids were so talented that it took off. And also, just being able to sort of see yourself on TV, the kids felt like they were local celebrities, because they were.”

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YOUR DAILY QUESTION ☕️

As a kid, what was your back-to-school tradition or ritual?

Email us (please include your first and last name and where you live). To see the answers to this question, check our Morning Edition newsletter. Not subscribed to Morning Edition? Sign up here so you won’t miss a thing!


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Editor: Satchel Price
Newsletter reporter: Matt Moore
Copy editor: Angie Myers

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