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Peoria Fugitives Charged with Failure to Appear

May 17, 2012

Peoria, Ill. – U.S. Attorney Jim Lewis, Central District of Illinois, announced that a federal grand jury today charged a Peoria couple with failure to appear for sentencing in May 2000. Following a 12-year manhunt by the U.S. Marshals Service, Nelson Hallahan, 65, aka Andrew Howard Wheeler, and Janet Hallahan, 54, aka Diane Lee, were arrested near Phoenix, Ariz., on May 5, 2012, by deputies of the U.S. Marshals Service. The day prior to their arrest, “America’s Most Wanted” featured the fugitive couple and the Marshals Service received a tip about their location.

“The United States Marshals deserve tremendous credit. They never gave up,” said U.S. Attorney Lewis. “With the help of ‘America’s Most Wanted,’ they got their man – and their woman. Now, finally, justice can be done.”

According to the indictment, the couple failed to appear for sentencing on May 4, 2000. Nelson and Janet Hallahan each pled guilty in January 2000, to defrauding family and friends of approximately $1.7 million from November 1993 to June 1999, as a result of a scheme that promised investors greater returns than insurance policies and mutual funds. They faced up to 25 years in prison for conspiracy to commit mail fraud and bank fraud and for conspiracy to commit money laundering. If convicted of failure to appear, each faces up to 10 years in prison which must be served consecutive to any other sentence imposed for the fraud conspiracy convictions.

The couple appeared in federal court in Phoenix on May 7, where each waived their right to an identity/removal hearing and were ordered to be returned to the Central District of Illinois. The couple remains in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service pending their return to central Illinois. An arraignment date will be determined by the U.S. Clerk of the Court upon the couple’s return to Peoria.

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

The fraud charges were investigated by the IRS Criminal Investigations; U.S. Postal Inspection Service; FBI, and the Illinois Secretary of State Securities Department. The Pekin Police Department also assisted in the investigation. The cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Darilynn J. Knauss.

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