EAST ST. LOUIS — The owner of a Madison, Ill., business and his brother have been sentenced for their part in a large property fraud ring, James L. Porter, acting United States attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, said.
James D. Litchfield, 59, owner of Big Jim’s Autorama in Madison, and his brother, Ryan P. Litchfield, 37, of O’Fallon, Mo., on Tuesday were both sentenced to prison for their participation in the ring. James Litchfield was sentenced to three years in prison, while Ryan Litchfield was sentenced to one year and one day in prison.
The charges arise from an indictment that was returned by a federal grand jury in East St. Louis on Oct. 20, 2015. The indictment alleges that the leader of the fraud ring, Jason J. Parmeley, 42, formerly of O’Fallon, Mo., conducted the 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 this information, Parmeley allegedly 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, computers, expensive tools, and construction equipment. The indictment charges that, after he placed the orders, Parmeley dispatchdrivers to go to the stores and pick up the items. According to the indictment, the items were then sold at prices substantially below retail. The profits were then wire transferred to Parmeley in Mexico.
When he pled guilty on Feb. 11, 2016, James Litchfield admitted that he received numerous truckloads of items which he knew had been obtained by fraud. The property included construction equipment, such as Skid Steer Loaders, appliances, such as washing machines, dryers, and refrigerators, and assorted other merchandise, including paint, flooring and siding.
The items were delivered to Big Jim’s Autorama. James Litchfield admitted that he kept some of these items for his own personal use, but sold other items at prices far below their retail value. He also admitted that he provided two trucks that were used by the co-conspirators to pick up fraudulently ordered items. Finally, James Litchfield admitted that he engaged in money laundering by wire transferring payments for the merchandise to Parmeley in Mexico under fake names. At the sentencing hearing yesterday afternoon, the court found that the amount of stolen property James Litchfield received exceeded $150,000.
Ryan Litchfield also pled guilty on Feb. 11, 2016, Porter said. During his plea hearing, Ryan Litchfield admitted that he received approximately 20 to 25 truckloads of property and merchandise that had been obtained by fraud. He sold the majority of that merchandise to his friends and business associates. On occasion, Ryan Litchfield sold the items by placing advertisements on websites such as Craig’s List. He also occasionally allowed Parmeley to store items that had been obtained by fraud at his house and rented storage lockers that were used to store property obtained by fraud. The court found that the amount of stolen property received by Ryan Litchfield was approximately $80,000.
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.
In late August of this year, Mexican Immigration Authorities deported Parmeley from Mexico. Parmeley is currently in federal custody and is awaiting trial.
In addition to Parmeley and the Litchfields, the indictment charges 12 other individuals with participating in this fraud scheme. Four of those individuals have pled guilty and are awaiting sentencing. The individuals who have pled guilty are: Benedict G. Pellerito, 55, of Troy, Mo.; Tony G. Robertson, 44, of O’Fallon, Mo.; Alice J. Hembree, 43, of Moscow Mills, Mo.; and Nicholas A. Brockman, 20, of Wentzville, Mo.
The trial of Parmeley and the remaining eight defendants is currently scheduled to begin on Aug. 22, 2016. Those eight defendants are: Angel Speed, 25, formerly of O’Fallon, Mo.; Sean A. Shields, 47, of Ozark, Mo.; Shannan Flora, 41, of Vienna, IL; Steven J. Belcher, 44, of Wentzville, MO; Jesse S. Urias, 36, of Los Angeles, CA; Rigoberto Gutierrez, 26, of Compton, Calif.; Russell J. Witt, 33, of New Baltimore, Mich.; and Bryce E..Atkinson, 21, of Lake Saint Louis.
— From the Illinois Business Journal