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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Missouri

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, May 18, 2018

Federal Jury Finds Illinois Motor Vehicle Employee Guilty on Conspiracy to Defraud and Mail Fraud Charges

St. Louis, MO – After a five-day trial, a federal jury returned five guilty verdicts for the United States finding that Melvin Harmon conspired to defraud the United States by assisting Missouri residents in registering their cars in Illinois.      

According to evidence at trial, between January 1, 2015 and December 20, 2016, Melvin Harmon was employed at a Granite City, Illinois office registering vehicles for the State of Illinois Secretary of State.  He used his employment to obtain fraudulent motor vehicle registrations for others in exchange for a fee.  In March 2016, investigators with the Illinois Secretary of State discovered that Harmon had been charging Missouri residents $350.00 to $700.00 in order to fraudulently register their cars in Illinois.  Doing so enabled the Missouri residents to evade payment of Missouri taxes.  In addition, Harmon altered the price of the vehicles in order to reduce any payments that would be owed to the State of Illinois as a result of his fraudulent conduct.  However, throughout the course of the investigation, officials determined that Harmon registered more than 380 vehicles for residents of Missouri and other states using assumed Illinois addresses.  The State of Missouri estimated a loss of tax revenue in excess of $300,000.00 for vehicles associated with Missouri residents.

Harmon, 40, Belleville, IL, was indicted on September 13, 2017 in a superseding indictment charging him with six felony counts, including: conspiracy to defraud the United States; mail fraud; and interstate transportation of falsely made motor vehicle titles. 

He faces up to 20-years of imprisonment for the convictions, and a potential fine of $250,000 per count. In determining the actual sentence, a Judge is required to consider the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which provides recommended sentencing ranges.

Sentencing has been set for August 14, 2018 before the Honorable Henry E. Autrey.       

The case was investigated by the Missouri Department of Revenue-Compliance and Investigation Bureau.  This case was handled by Assistant United States Attorneys Tracy Berry and Dianna Collins.

Topic(s): 
Financial Fraud
Updated May 18, 2018