East St. Louis, Ill – Kenesha Burlison, 40, of St. Louis, Missouri, pled guilty on Thursday,
February 10, 2022, to a two-count felony information charging her with theft from an organization
receiving federal funds and aggravated identity theft.
Burlison served as the Director of Human Relations for Call for Help, Inc., beginning in 2016. Call
for Help is a longstanding charitable organization in East St. Louis, Illinois, that helps people
overcome a variety of personal crises, ranging from sexual assault and poverty to homelessness and
mental health issues. The organization receives federal funds annually to assist in carrying out
“Federal charges, carrying a mandatory minimum prison sentence, were appropriate here because the
Defendant stole so much money that would have provided needed services to vulnerable
victims, including sexual assault survivors and the homeless,” said U.S. Attorney Steven D.
“An organization dedicated to assisting victims of trauma and families in crisis holds high
expectations for honesty and integrity from its director,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge David
Nanz. “Kenesha Burlison demonstrated bold disregard for her co-workers and the people who depend
on Call for Help to survive. The FBI is dedicated to investigating those, like Burlison,
who choose to deceive and defraud others while stealing taxpayer dollars.”
According to court documents, Burlison fraudulently obtained a cashier’s check from Call for Help
in the amount of $69,788.62, which she used to pay the down payment for a home she was purchasing.
Burlison told Call for Help that she needed a cashier’s check to provide to the title company and
claimed that she couldn’t get one from her bank because it was closed. In exchange for the
cashier’s check, Burlison provided Call for Help with a personal check in the amount of $70,000.
That check, as well as two others provided by Burlison in the coming months, bounced for
Following her termination from the organization, Call for Help discovered that Burlison
had also fraudulently submitted requests for reimbursements that she was not entitled to from the
organization that exceeded $100,000. These reimbursements were paid to Burlison.
In addition to the charge relating to her theft from Call for Help, Burlison also pled guilty to
aggravated identity theft. Court documents alleged that, in connection with her mortgage
application, Burlison submitted a fraudulent income verification with a forged signature of the
Director of Quality Assurance
at Call for Help.
Theft from an organization receiving federal funds carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison
and a fine of up to $250,000. Burlison faces a mandatory sentence of two years’ imprisonment for
aggravated identity theft, which must run consecutive to any sentence imposed on the fraud count.
In addition, Burlison could also be ordered to pay restitution to her victims.
Burlison is scheduled to be sentenced on May 26, 2022. A federal district court judge will
determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory
The investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation – Springfield Division.
Assistant United States Attorney Zoe J. Gross is prosecuting the case.