Indictment Charges Pair with $2 Million Fraud Scheme
PEORIA, Ill. – Two former employees of a Central Illinois boat and watercraft dealership have been charged with fraud in an indictment that was unsealed today when Jeffrey D. Gibbs, 55, of Farmer City, Ill., made his initial appearance in federal court in Peoria. An initial trial date has been scheduled on March 15, 2021. Gibbs was arrested on Dec. 18, 2020; he was released following today’s hearing with conditions, including location monitoring. A summons has been issued to Kara M. Wilkey, 45, of Maroa, Ill., to make her initial appearance on Jan. 12, 2021.
Mid Illinois Boats, Inc., doing business as Clinton Marine II, operated new and used boat dealerships in East Peoria and Weldon, Ill. The indictment alleges that Gibbs and Wilkey, former employees of Clinton Marine II, operated a multifaced fraud scheme that defrauded their employer, banks, and the dealerships’ customers of more than $2 million. The pair allegedly spent the money on their own automobiles, vacations, credit cards, utilities and shopping.
The indictment alleges that from January 2014 to July 2019, Gibbs and Wilkey used their positions with Clinton Marine II, which included management of day-to-day operations, to carry out their fraud scheme. The fraud allegedly included obtaining loans on fictitious boats and on false transactions; taking out loans using forged signatures; selling boats on behalf of customers but not paying off the customers loan or remitting payment to the seller; and, collecting payment for taxes, titles and fees, but failing to pay those expenses.
The charges are the result of investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation with the assistance of the DeWitt County Sheriff’s Office; the Illinois Department of Natural Resources; and, the Illinois Secretary of State. Assistant U.S. Attorney Douglas F. McMeyer is representing the government in the case prosecution.
If convicted, the statutory maximum penalty for each count of wire fraud (nine counts) and mail fraud (two counts) is up to 20 years in prison; the maximum penalty for each count of bank fraud (four counts) is up to 30 years in prison; and, each count of aggravated identity theft (three counts) carries a penalty of two years in prison and requires that at least two years must be served consecutive to any sentence imposed on any other count.
Members of the public are reminded that an indictment is merely an accusation; each defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty.