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Press Release

Illinois Motor Vehicle Employee Known as "The Plate Plan" Sentenced for Vehicle Registration Fraud Scheme

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Missouri

St. Louis, MO – Melvin Harmon was sentenced to 33 months incarceration and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $119,359.92 for conspiracy to defraud the United States and mail fraud 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 assist Missouri residents in obtaining fraudulent motor vehicle registrations for others in exchange for a fee.  Some of the Missouri residents learned of his services when they saw flyers advertising Harmon as “The Plate Man.”

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 paid to the State of Illinois as a result of the fraudulent registration.  The alteration increased the amount he profited through the scheme.  The State of Missouri lost in excess of $119,359.92 in sales tax revenue due to the fraudulent conduct.  The precise loss of personal property tax income to the State of Missouri and local municipalities has not been determined.

Harmon, 40, Belleville, IL, was found guilty on May 18, 2108 after a federal jury returned five guilty verdicts.  He appeared before U.S. District Judge Henry E. Autrey.

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

Updated November 2, 2018

Financial Fraud