From Illinois Business Journal news services
A federal grand jury in East St. Louis has returned a 17-count indictment charging 15 individuals, including a Madison, Ill., business owner, with numerous charges arising from a stolen property fraud ring, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, Stephen R. Wigginton announced today.
The indictment, returned Tuesday, alleges that the leader of the fraud ring, Jason J. Parmeley, 42, formerly of O’Fallon, Mo., conducted this fraud scheme from Mexico.
According to the indictment, Parmeley used the Internet to obtain credit account numbers that individuals and businesses had with retail stores, such as Home Depot, Lowes, Menards, and rental stores, such as SunBelt Rentals.
Using the information, Parmeley placed orders with the stores in the names of, and under the credit accounts of, the individuals and businesses. The items Parmeley ordered frequently consisted of appliances, expensive tools, and construction equipment. The indictment charges that, after he placed the orders, Parmeley dispatched drivers to go to the stores and pick up the items. The items were then sold at prices substantially below retail. The profits were then wire transferred to Parmeley in Mexico.
“Essentially, we allege that Parmeley and his gang committed identity theft, not only stealing the electronic identity of individuals, but also stealing the electronic identity of businesses. I urge anyone who thinks that they might have been affected by this scheme to report their case to my office.” said Wigginton.
The retail and rental stores victimized by the scheme were located in various parts of the United States, including Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Virginia. Some of the victimized stores were located within the Southern District of Illinois, including stores in Collinsville, Granite City, and O’Fallon, Ill.
The indictment also charges that James D. Litchfield, 58, owner of Big Jim’s Autorama in Madison, Ill., purchased many items which he allegedly knew had been obtained by fraud. The items were allegedly delivered to Litchfield at Big Jim’s Autorama. The indictment further alleges that Litchfield provided two trucks that were used by his co-conspirators to pick up fraudulently ordered items.
The other defendants charged in the indictment are: Angel Speed, 25, formerly of O’Fallon, Mo., Sean A. Shields, 47, of Ozark, Mo., Shannan Flora, 41, of Vienna, IL, Alice J. Hembree, 43, of O’Fallon, Mo., Tony G. Robertson, 43, of O’Fallon, Mo., Steven J. Belcher, 44, of Wentzville, Mo., Jesse S. Urias, 36, of Los Angeles, Calif., Ryan P. Litchfield, 37, of O’Fallon, Mo., Rigoberto Gutierrez, 26, of Compton, Calif., Russell J. Witt, 33, of New Baltimore, Mich., Bryce E. Atkinson, 21, of Lake Saint Louis, Mo., Nicholas A. Brockman, 20, of Wentzville, Mo., and Benedict G. Pellerito, 55, of Troy, Mo.
Both James D. Litchfield and Ryan P. Litchfield were arrested Wednesday. Their trial date has been set for Dec. 21.
In late August of this year, Mexican immigration authorities deported Parmeley from Mexico. Parmeley is currently in federal custody in Alabama on an unrelated bank fraud charge. The remaining defendants are expected to appear for arraignment within the next two weeks.
The charges contained in the indictment include conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to transport property obtained by fraud in interstate commerce, wire fraud, interstate transportation of property obtained by fraud, possession of property obtained by fraud, money laundering, and aggravated identity theft. The indictment also seeks forfeiture of the proceeds of the fraud scheme.
The investigation is being conducted by agents from the St. Louis Division of the FBI, which has received substantial assistance from many state and local police departments in numerous jurisdictions, including the Metro East Auto Theft Task Force. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Scott A. Verseman.