Belleville man gets prison in money laundering scheme

EAST ST. LOUIS – Stephen R. Wigginton, United States attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, announced today that Brian J. Fields, 52, of Belleville,was sentenced on a two-count information charging that he engaged in a scheme to commit wire fraud and that he had committed money laundering. Fields was sentenced to serve 27 months in federal prison, to pay $98,800 in restitution to his victims, and to serve 3 years of supervised release after his release from prison.

At his plea hearing On May 28, 2014, Fields admitted that he assisted a person from oversees (Nigeria) in defrauding United States citizens by sending counterfeit checks and money orders to individuals in several schemes (such as a “secret shopper” scam).

The schemes resulted in victims receiving the counterfeit check or money order, depositing it into their own bank account, and then at the direction of Fields, the victim would wire transfer legitimate funds to Fields.

By the time the person learned the check or money order was worthless, they had already sent the money to Fields. When Fields received the victims’ money, he would keep a portion for himself and then to further the scheme, Fields would send the remaining funds to a person located in Nigeria. Agents were able to identify more than 70 victims.

The investigation was conducted by the Criminal Investigation Division of the Internal Revenue Service, the United States Secret Service and the Swansea Police Department.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ranley R. Killian.

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