Three Individuals, Including Madison Business Owner, Plead Guilty To Participating In Stolen Property Ring
James L. Porter, Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, announced that three individuals pled guilty this morning in Federal Court in Southern Illinois to charges arising from their participation in a large stolen property ring. The individuals who pled guilty this morning are James D. Litchfield, 58, owner of Big Jim’s Autorama in Madison, IL, his brother, Ryan P. Litchfield, 37, of O’Fallon, MO, and Benedict G. Pellerito, 55, of Troy, MO.
Evidence revealed in Court showed that the leader of this stolen property fraud ring, Jason J. Parmeley, 42, formerly of O’Fallon, MO, conducted the 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, Lowe’s, Menard’s, 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, 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.
During the plea hearing today, James D. 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, as well as 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. James Litchfield 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.
During his plea hearing, Ryan P. Litchfield admitted that he received approximately 20 to 25 truckloads of property and merchandise that had been obtained by fraud. Ryan Litchfield 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. Ryan Litchfield sold these items for substantially less than their retail value. He also admitted that he occasionally allowed Parmeley to store items that had been obtained by fraud at his house and that he rented storage lockers that were used to store property obtained by fraud.
Benedict G. Pellerito admitted that he worked as a driver for the conspiracy on at least 12 occasions. Pellerito acknowledged that he picked up fraudulently ordered merchandise at various retail stores in Illinois, Missouri, and Kansas, and then delivered those items to Parmeley’s customers. Pellerito also admitted that he engaged in money laundering by wire transferring money to Parmeley in Mexico under fake names.
In late August of this year, Mexican Immigration Authorities deported Parmeley from Mexico. Parmeley is currently in federal custody in Alabama on an unrelated bank fraud charge. It is expected that he will be transferred to the Southern District of Illinois in the near future to stand trial on the charges in this indictment. As to Parmeley, please remember that he is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
The sentencing hearings for James Litchfield and Ryan Litchfield will be conducted on June 7, 2016 at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., respectively; the sentencing hearing for Benedict Pellerito will be conducted on June 14, 2016, at 9:30 a.m. at the Federal Courthouse in Benton, IL. The trial of the remaining defendants is scheduled for April 18, 2016.
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. The indictment also seeks forfeiture of the proceeds of the fraud scheme.
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. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Scott A. Verseman and Jonathan Drucker.