BENTON, Ill. – A federal judge has sentenced a St. Louis man connected with a six-figure fraud scheme while he served as treasurer for a southern Illinois nonprofit.

Billy E. Harris, 49, was sentenced to 21 months in prison earlier this week. Harris, the former 
treasurer of the Perry County Agricultural Society (PCAS), was convicted of defrauding the PCAS out of nearly $150,000.

Harris served as the treasurer of the PCAS from 2011 through October 2018. The PCAS operates all of the festivals at the Perry County Fairgrounds in Pinckneyville, including 
the Perry County Fair.

As part of a plea agreement, Harris admitted that from he defrauded the PCAS out of more than $100,000 from June 2012 to Oct. 2018. Investigators say he used the funds to pay for personal expenses, and purchased items for his personal use from the PCAS bank account.  

Some of the items were purchased through Amazon, including 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 and grooming products.

Harris also admitted to writing checks on the PCAS account payable to himself and his spouse, and forging a board member’s signature on those checks.

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 nearly $150,000 in 
restitution to the PCAS.  After he is released from prison, Harris will then serve a two-year period of supervised release.