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Press Release

Former Treasurer of Perry County Agricultural Society Pleads Guilty to Fraud

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Illinois

Benton, Ill. – This morning, in federal court in Benton, Illinois, Billy E. Harris, the former treasurer of the Perry County Agricultural Society (“PCAS”), pled guilty to defrauding the PCAS out of more than $100,000.

The PCAS operates all of the festivals at the Perry County Fairgrounds in Pinckneyville, including the Perry County Fair. Harris, 48, currently of St. Louis, MO, served as the treasurer of the PCAS from 2011 through October 2018. When he appeared in court this morning, Harris admitted that from June 5, 2012 through October 3, 2018, he defrauded the PCAS out of more than $100,000. Specifically, Harris acknowledged that he paid his personal expenses, and purchased items for his personal use, with electronic debits from the PCAS bank account. Many of those items were purchased through Amazon. Some of the items that Harris admitted purchasing with PCAS funds include a WiFi router, Apple AirPods, a Himalyan Salt Lamp Air Purifier, Star Wars Darth Vader and Yoda personalized pet tags, a pair of Star Wars men’s sleep pants, a floating pool fountain, a CPAP tube cleaning brush, and men’s grooming products, including beard lube. Harris also admitted writing checks on the PCAS account payable to himself and his spouse, and forging a Board member’s signature on those checks.

Harris will be sentenced on May 5, 2022, at 1:30 p.m. The mail fraud charge on which Harris has been convicted carries a maximum sentence of up to 20 years of imprisonment, a maximum fine of up to $250,000, and a period of supervised release of up to 3 years. In addition, Harris can be ordered to pay full restitution to the PCAS.

The St. Louis Office of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Pinckneyville Police Department investigated the case. The Perry County State’s Attorney’s Office also assisted with the investigation.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott Verseman is prosecuted the case.

Updated January 14, 2022

Financial Fraud