Madison Business Owner And His Brother Sentenced To Prison For Participating In Stolen Property Fraud Ring
James L. Porter, Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, announced that yesterday, James D. Litchfield, 59, owner of Big Jim’s Autorama in Madison, IL, and his brother, Ryan P. Litchfield, 37, of O’Fallon, MO, were both sentenced to prison for their participation in a large stolen property ring. James Litchfield was sentenced to 3 years in prison, while Ryan Litchfield was sentenced to 1 year and 1 day in prison.
The charges arise from an indictment that was returned by a federal grand jury in East St. Louis, IL, on October 20, 2015. The indictment alleges that the leader of this fraud ring, Jason J. Parmeley, 42, formerly of O’Fallon, MO, conducted this fraud scheme from Mexico. According to the indictment, Parmeley used the internet to obtain credit account numbers that individuals and businesses had with retail stores, such as Home Depot, Lowes, Menards, and rental stores, such as SunBelt Rentals. Using this information, Parmeley placed orders with the stores in the names of, and under the credit accounts, of the individuals and businesses. The items Parmeley ordered frequently consisted of appliances, computers, expensive tools, and construction equipment. The indictment charges that, after he placed the orders, Parmeley dispatched drivers to go to the stores and pick up the items. According to the indictment, the items were then sold at prices substantially below retail. The profits were then wire transferred to Parmeley in Mexico.
When he pled guilty on February 11, 2016, James Litchfield admitted that he received numerous truckloads of items which he knew had been obtained by fraud. This fraudulently obtained property included construction equipment, such as Skid Steer Loaders, appliances, such as washing machines, dryers, and refrigerators, and assorted other merchandise, including paint, flooring, and siding. These items were delivered to Big Jim’s Autorama in Madison, IL. James Litchfield admitted that he kept some of these items for his own personal use, but sold other items at prices far below their retail value. He also admitted that he provided two trucks that were used by the co-conspirators to pick up fraudulently ordered items. Finally, James Litchfield admitted that he engaged in money laundering by wire transferring payments for the merchandise to Parmeley in Mexico under fake names. At the sentencing hearing yesterday afternoon, the court found that the amount of stolen property James Litchfield received exceeded $150,000.
Ryan Litchfield also pled guilty on February 11, 2016. During his plea hearing, Ryan Litchfield admitted that he received approximately 20 to 25 truckloads of property and merchandise that had been obtained by fraud. He sold the majority of that merchandise to his friends and business associates. On occasion, Ryan Litchfield sold the items by placing advertisements on websites such as Craig’s List. He also occasionally allowed Parmeley to store items that had been obtained by fraud at his house and rented storage lockers that were used to store property obtained by fraud. The court found that the amount of stolen property received by Ryan Litchfield was approximately $80,000.
The charges contained in the indictment include conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to transport property obtained by fraud in interstate commerce, wire fraud, interstate transportation of property obtained by fraud, possession of property obtained by fraud, money laundering, and aggravated identity theft.
In late August of this year, Mexican Immigration Authorities deported Parmeley from Mexico. Parmeley is currently in federal custody and is awaiting trial.
In addition to Parmeley and the Litchfields, the indictment charges 12 other individuals with participating in this fraud scheme. Four of those individuals have pled guilty and are awaiting sentencing. The individuals who have pled guilty are: Benedict G. Pellerito, 55, of Troy, MO; Tony G. Robertson, 44, of O’Fallon, MO; Alice J. Hembree, 43, of Moscow Mills, MO; and Nicholas A. Brockman, 20, of Wentzville, MO. The trial of Parmeley and the remaining eight defendants is currently scheduled to begin on August 22, 2016. Those eight defendants are: Angel Speed, 25, formerly of O’Fallon, MO; Sean A. Shields, 47, of Ozark, MO; Shannan Flora, 41, of Vienna, IL; Steven J. Belcher, 44, of Wentzville, MO; Jesse S. Urias, 36, of Los Angeles, CA; Rigoberto Gutierrez, 26, of Compton, CA; Russell J. Witt, 33, of New Baltimore, MI; and Bryce E. Atkinson, 21, of Lake Saint Louis, MO.
Note: As to those defendants who are awaiting trial, the law presumes them to be innocent unless they are proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
The investigation is being conducted by agents from the St. Louis Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation ("FBI"). The FBI has received substantial assistance from many state and local police departments in numerous jurisdictions, including the Metro East Auto Theft Task Force and the California Highway Patrol. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Scott A. Verseman.