ST. LOUIS WOMAN PLEADS GUILTY TO CHARGES OF CONDUCTING MULTIMILLION DOLLAR FRAUDULENT INVESTMENT SCHEME FROM SWANSEA, IL
Stephen R. Wigginton, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, announced that on March 24, 2011, Victoria McGee-Harris, 58, of St. Louis, Missouri, plead guilty to one count of Mail Fraud and one count of Engaging in a Monetary Transaction over $10,000 in Property Derived From Specified Unlawful Activity. McGee-Harris faces a total statutory penalty of up to 30 years’ imprisonment, a fine of up to $250,000.00, or both, and a term of supervised release of up to three years with mandatory restitution. Sentencing has been scheduled for July 8, 2011.
Victoria McGee-Harris d/b/a Metro East Insurance Group, was a licensed insurance agent and securities broker registered with Tower Square Securities, Inc., a MetLife Company. She operated out of offices located in Swansea, Illinois. As part of the plea, McGee-Harris admitted that from January 2003 through January 2010, she engaged in a scheme to defraud her clients by enticing her clients into paying money for various investment products and insurance products she never purchased on her clients’ behalf. As part of the plea she admitted that she diverted, deposited and commingled the funds she obtained through her fraudulent schemes into accounts she controlled at various banks. She then diverted the commingled client funds for her own personal use, to increase her personal wealth and possessions, to travel to various destinations, to purchase and rehab rental properties, to finance the operation of a chain of clothing stores d/b/a Essential Elements (Chesterfield, MO), Essential Elements (Ladue, MO) and Elements of Denim (Clayton, MO), to pay personal expenses and to fund investments on behalf of her clients. The Information to which the Defendant pled guilty alleges that McGee-Harris diverted a total of $6,045,000.00 in client funds.
The plea follows an investigation by the Illinois Securities Department, the Internal Revenue Service/Criminal Investigations and the United States Postal Inspection Service. The prosecution of the case is being handled by Assistant United States Attorney Norman R. Smith.
People who believe they have been a victim of securities fraud should contact the Illinois Securities Department at 1-800-628-7937. If you suspect or know of an individual or company that is not complying with the tax laws, you may report this activity by contacting the local Internal Revenue Service/Criminal Investigation Office at (618) 622-2160 or by mailing information to: Internal Revenue Service, Fresno, CA 93888.