Three Missouri Individuals Plead Guilty To Participating In Stolen Property Fraud 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 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 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, 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 their plea hearings today, both Robertson and Brockman admitted that they worked as drivers for the conspiracy. Robertson acknowledged that he worked for the conspiracy from 2012 through 2015, while Brockman agreed that he drove for the group from October through December of 2013. Both Robertson and Brockman admitted that they picked up fraudulently ordered merchandise at various retail stores and then delivered those items to Parmeley’s customers. Robertson also admitted that he engaged in money laundering by wire transferring money to Parmeley in Mexico under a fake name.
During her plea hearing, Hembree admitted that her primary role for the conspiracy was to locate buyers for the stolen merchandise. Hembree also performed various other jobs for the conspiracy, including selling fraudulently ordered gift cards, storing some of the stolen merchandise at her house, and performing some bookkeeping functions for the group.
The indictment charged twelve other individuals with participating in the conspiracy. They are: Jason J. Parmeley, 42, James D. Litchfield, 58, owner of Big Jim’s Autorama in Madison, IL, Angel Speed, 25, formerly of O’Fallon, MO, Sean A. Shields, 47, of Ozark, MO, Shanna Flora, 41, of Vienna, IL, Steven J. Belcher, 44, of Wentzville, MO, Jesse S. Urias, 36, of Los Angeles, CA, Ryan P. Litchfield, 37, of O’Fallon, MO, Rigoberto Gutierrez, 26, of Compton, CA, Russell J. Witt, 33, of New Baltimore, MI, Bryce E. Atkinson, 21, of Lake Saint Louis, MO, and Benedict G. Pellerito, 55, of Troy, MO.
On February 11, 2016, James D. Litchfield, Ryan P. Litchfield, and Benedict G. Pellerito all pled guilty to the charges against them contained in the indictment. They are scheduled to be sentenced in June.
The sentencing hearings for Robertson, Hembree, and Brockman will all be conducted on July 19, 2016 at 10:30 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.
NOTE: Those individuals who are awaiting trial are presumed innocent unless or until 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. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Scott A. Verseman.