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Last defendant pleads guilty in stolen property ring that operated throughout area

Donald S. Boyce, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, says the final defendant has pleaded guilty in a case involving a large stolen property fraud ring that operated in the Metro East and elsewhere.

Angel Speed, 26, entered a guilty plea in federal court in Benton this week to federal crimes arising from his participation in a large stolen property fraud ring. With Speed’s guilty plea, all 15 defendants charged in the case have now pled guilty.

The leader of the conspiracy/stolen property ring was co-defendant Jason J. Parmeley, 42, formerly of O’Fallon, Mo. At his plea hearing on Dec. 6, 2016, Parmeley admitted that he used the Internet to obtain credit account numbers that individuals and businesses had with retail stores, such as Home Depot, Lowe’s, Menard’s, 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 to Parmeley in Mexico. Parmeley lived in Mexico and controlled the fraud ring from that country.

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

Speed admitted that he assisted Parmeley with the operation of the conspiracy in Mexico. Speed assisted Parmeley with computer work necessary to operate the scheme, relayed instructions to the drivers, and assisted in laundering the profits of the scheme. With regard to the money laundering, Speed admitted that he used a false name to pick up profits of the fraud scheme that had been wire transferred to Parmeley in Mexico by other conspirators in the United States.

To date, six defendants have been 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 the stolen property. On Oct. 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. On Dec. 13, 2016, Sean A. Shields, 48, of Ozark, Mo., was also sentenced to 12 months in prison. Shields owned a store in Ozark and purchased large quantities of the stolen merchandise.

Five other defendants were sentenced to terms of probation. They are: Nicholas A. Brockman, 20, of Wentzville, Mo.; Benedict G. Pellerito, 56, of Troy, Mo; Bryce E. Atkinson, 22, of Lake Saint Louis; Alice J. Hembree, 44, of Moscow Mills, Mo; and Tony G. Robertson, 45, of O’Fallon, Mo. Brockman, Pellerito, Atkinson, and Robertson all worked as drivers for the conspiracy. Hembree performed administrative and bookkeeping functions for the fraud ring.

The four remaining defendants will be sentenced on the following dates: (1) March 28, 2017 – Steven J. Belcher, 45, of St. Charles, Mo; (2) March 30, 2017 – Jesse S. Urias, 38, of Compton, Calif.; (3) May 4, 2017 – Jason J. Parmeley, 42, formerly of O’Fallon, Mo.; and (4) June 22, 2017 – Angel Speed, 26.

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.

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