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Former Rantoul, Ill. Man Charged with Fraud; Tax Evasion

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 10, 2010

Urbana, Ill. – A former Rantoul, Ill., man, Colin A. Shields, made his initial appearance today in federal court in Urbana on charges alleging that he defrauded a family member of more than $550,000. According to court documents, Shields, 35, currently resides in Kirksville, Missouri.

A federal grand jury returned the six-count indictment yesterday; however, the indictment remained sealed pending Shields’ arrest this morning in Kirksville and his initial appearance this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge David G. Bernthal in Urbana. Shields was ordered to remain detained in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service and a detention hearing has been scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 14, at 3:30 p.m., also before Judge Bernthal. Trial in the case has been scheduled for Feb. 14, 2011.

According to the indictment, during the course of the alleged scheme, from January 2006 to February 2009, Shields and his grandmother were residents of Champaign county. The indictment alleges that Shields gained his grandmother’s confidence and handled her finances, including paying his grandmother’s bills, presenting her with blank checks to sign, reviewing her financial records, purporting to act as her attorney-in-fact under a power of attorney, and approaching financial entities, accountants and bookkeepers purportedly on her behalf. In fact, the indictment alleges that Shields did not act in his grandmother’s best interest, and instead, used his ability to access her accounts and funds to support his own lifestyle.

The indictment alleges that Shields diverted a total of approximately $572,000 from his grandmother’s accounts without her knowledge or permission as to the actual use of the money. In fact, the indictment alleges that Shields diverted monies from his grandmother’s accounts to his personal bank accounts as well as to two other accounts which Shields controlled, or to make direct payments for his own benefit. These payments allegedly included payments on American Express accounts used to make personal purchases, to pay membership related expenses at a local country club, to pay on a loan for a Ford Expedition, and to make a personal investment in a software company.

The indictment further alleges that Shields failed to file federal income tax returns for three years, 2006, 2007 and 2008.

If convicted, each count of wire fraud (three counts) is punishable by a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison. For each count of tax evasion (three counts), the maximum statutory penalty is five years in prison.

Members of the public are reminded that an indictment is merely an accusation; the defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty.

The charges are the result of an investigation by the Criminal Investigation Division of the Internal Revenue Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Eugene L. Miller.

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