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Leader of theft ring operating around Metro East pleads guilty

 

EAST ST. LOUIS — Authorities say a guilty plea has been entered by the leader of a theft ring that operated in and around Metro East.

Donald S. Boyce, United States attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, said Tuesday that Jason J. Parmeley, 42, formally of O’Fallon, Mo., pleaded guilty in federal court in Benton, Ill., to numerous federal crimes arising from his leadership of a large stolen property ring.

The charges against Parmeley arose from an indictment that was returned by a federal grand jury in East St. Louis, on Oct. 20, 2015. In addition to Parmeley, the indictment charged 14 other individuals with participating in the ring.

At his plea hearing Monday, Parmeley admitted he 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 placed orders with the stores in the names, and under the credit accounts, of the individuals and businesses. The items Parmeley ordered frequently consisted of appliances, computers, expensive tools, and construction equipment.

Parmeley further admitted that, after he placed the orders, he 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 wire transferred back to Parmeley in Mexico, where
Parmeley lived and from where he controlled the fraud ring. Parmeley pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to transport property obtained by fraud in interstate commerce, four counts of wire fraud, two counts of interstate transportation of property obtained by fraud, six counts of money laundering, and two counts of aggravated identity theft.

In late August of 2015, Mexican Immigration Authorities deported Parmeley from Mexico. Parmeley has been held in federal custody since that time.

Earlier this year, five defendants in the case were sentenced to prison for their roles in the conspiracy. On June 7, 2016, James D. Litchfield, 59, owner of Big Jim’s Autorama in Madison, Ill., was sentenced to three years in prison, and his brother, Ryan P. Litchfield, 37, of O’Fallon, Mo., was sentenced to one year in prison. Both of the brothers had admitted to receiving large quantities of stolen property.

On October 4, 2016, Shannan M. Flora, 42, of O’Fallon, Mo., and Rigoberto Gutierrez, 28, of Compton, Calif., were both sentenced to 15 months in prison. Flora performed a wide variety of tasks for the conspiracy, including arranging sales of stolen goods. Gutierrez coordinated shipments of stolen goods in California.

On October 12, 2016, Russell J. Witt, 34, of Mount Clemens, Mich., was sentenced to 12 months in prison. Witt worked as a driver for the conspiracy for over a year.

Three other defendants, Nicholas A. Brockman, 20, of Wentzville, Mo., and Benedict G. Pellerito, 56, of Troy, Missouri, and Bryce E. Atkinson, 22, of Lake Saint Louis, Mo., received sentences of probation. Brockman, Pellerito, and Atkinson all worked as drivers for the conspiracy for short periods of time.

Five additional defendants have pleaded guilty to their roles in the conspiracy and are awaiting sentencing. They are: Tony G. Robertson, 44, of O’Fallon, Mo.; Sean A. Shields, 48, of Springfield, Mo.; Alice J. Hembree, 44, of Moscow Mills, Mo.; Steven J. Belcher, 44, of Wentzville, Mo.; and Jesse S. Urias, 36, of Los Angeles.

The trial of the remaining defendant, Angel Speed, 25, formerly of O’Fallon, Mo., is scheduled to begin on Feb. 6, 2017.

The investigation is being conducted by agents from the St. Louis Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The FBI has received substantial assistance from many state and local police departments in numerous jurisdictions, including the Metro East Auto Theft Task Force and the California Highway Patrol. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Scott A. Verseman.

— From the Illinois Business Journal

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