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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Illinois

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Freeburg Couple Sentenced for Defrauding Elderly Family Member

EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. – Ronald Speiser, 81, and Jean Speiser, 81, of Freeburg, Illinois, will spend 
their  next  year  in  home  confinement  making  restitution  payments  after  defrauding  an  
elderly family member out of nearly $200,000. The Speisers pled guilty to two counts of fraud and 
were sentenced on Thursday, November 18, 2021, in U.S. District Court in East St. Louis, Illinois.

According to Court documents, the Speisers were designated as the victim’s power of attorney and 
successor power of attorney in the victim’s estate plan. In June 2018, the Speisers exercised their 
authority  over  the  victim’s  finances  by  opening  an  account  at  Citizens  Community  Bank  
in Mascoutah, Illinois, and depositing a check for  over $250,000 after selling the victim’s home. 
Starting around December 2018, and continuing until at least June 2020, the Speisers abused their 
access  to  these  funds  by  spending  over  $200,000  of  the  victim’s  money  without  the  
victim’s knowledge or permission, and for purposes that did not benefit the victim. Their spending 
spree included over $50,000 in personal home renovations, paying over a year’s worth of personal 
credit card bills, purchasing a new camper and new truck, and making a down payment and thirteen 
mortgage payments on a second home.

“The FBI recognizes that seniors can be a particularly vulnerable group,” said Special Agent in 
Charge David Nanz.   “In this case, Ronald and Jean Speiser were in a position of trust, not only 
as  power  of  attorney  but  as  a  family  member.  Rather  than  being  good  stewards  of  the 
responsibilities entrusted to them, they chose to steal money and use it for their own personal 
gain. The FBI will not hesitate to investigate those who victimize and take advantage of the 
elderly citizens of our community.”

While on home confinement, the Speisers will be restricted to their residence except for religious 
services, medical appointments, and other pre-approved activities. Their sentence also included an 
additional year of supervised release after home confinement and paying full restitution to the 
victim.  The  Speisers  paid  the  victim  an  initial  lump  sum  of  $119,000  as  part  of  
their  plea agreement. They will pay the remainder in monthly installments.

This case was brought as part of the Department of Justice’s Elder Fraud Initiative. Information 
about the Department of Justice’s Elder Fraud Initiative is available at 
www.justice.gov/elderjustice.

If you or someone you know is age 60 or older and has been a victim of financial fraud, help is 
standing by at the National Elder Fraud Hotline: 1-833-FRAUD-11 (1-833-372-8311). This U.S. 
Department  of  Justice  hotline,  managed  by  the  Office  for  Victims  of  Crime,  is  staffed  
by experienced professionals who provide personalized support to callers by assessing the needs of 
the victim, and identifying relevant next steps. Case managers will identify appropriate reporting 
agencies, provide information to callers to assist them in reporting, connect callers directly with 
appropriate agencies, and provide resources and referrals, on a case-by-case basis. Reporting is 
the first step. Reporting can help authorities identify those who commit fraud and reporting 
certain financial losses due to fraud as soon as possible can increase the likelihood of recovering 
losses. The hotline is staffed 7 days a week from 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. eastern time. English, 
Spanish and other languages are available.

The case was investigated by Adult Protective Services, St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department,
and the Federal Bureau of Investigation - Springfield Division.
 

Topic(s): 
Financial Fraud
Updated November 23, 2021