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Press Release


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

Benton, Ill. – Yesterday afternoon, in federal court in Benton, IL, Billy E. Harris, 49, the former 
treasurer of the Perry County Agricultural Society (“PCAS”), was sentenced to 21 months in prison 
for defrauding the PCAS out of more than $148,000.
The PCAS operates all of the festivals at the Perry County Fairgrounds in Pinckneyville, including 
the Perry County Fair.  Harris, currently of St. Louis, MO, served as the treasurer of the PCAS 
from 2011 through October 2018.  At his plea hearing earlier this year, 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.

At the sentencing hearing yesterday, the sentencing judge noted that Harris’ fraud against the PCAS 
was a product of greed.  In explaining her decision to sentence Harris to prison, the judge stated 
that individuals who prey on small community organizations cannot steal large sums of money and 
then simply say “I’m sorry” and walk away with no real consequences.

“When individuals like Harris steal from civic groups like the Perry County Agricultural Society, 
they are really stealing from the communities that the groups serve,” said U.S. Attorney Rachelle 
Aud Crowe.  “In this case, Harris stole from the people of Perry County who enjoy attending 
community events at the Perry County Fairgrounds.  We will always seek to hold these individuals 
accountable for their actions.”

In addition to the 21 month prison sentence, the court also ordered Harris to pay $148,908.07 in 
restitution to the PCAS.  After he is released from prison, Harris will then serve a two year 
period of
supervised release.

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 
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Scott Verseman and Zoe Gross prosecuted the case.

Updated July 27, 2022

Financial Fraud