Former treasurer of Illinois society pleads guilty to $100k fraud scheme

Illinois

BENTON, Ill. – A former treasurer of the Perry County Agricultural Society (PCAS) admitted to taking thousands of dollars from the PCAS organization.

Billy E. Harris, 48, St. Louis, was the treasurer for the PCAS from 2011 to October 2018. The organization manages all of the festivals at the Perry County Fairgrounds in Pinckneyville, Illinois, including the Perry County Fair, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

On Friday, Jan. 14, Harris pleaded guilty to defrauding the PCAS out of more than $100,000 from June 5, 2012, through Oct. 3, 2018. The money was used for his personal expenses and items bought on Amazon with electronic debits from the PCAS bank account.

Items Harris purchased included a WiFi router, Apple AirPods, a Himalayan Salt Lamp Air Purifier, Star Wars Darth Vader and Yoda personalized pet tags, a pair of Star Wars men’s sleep pants, a floating pool fountain, a CPAP tube cleaning brush, and men’s grooming products, including beard lube, according to the press release.

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

Harris’ sentencing is set for May 5 at 1:30 p.m. He could face up to 20 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, and a period of supervised release of up to three years, according to the press release.

Harris also could be ordered to pay full restitution to the PCAS.

The St. Louis Office of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Pinckneyville Police Department investigated the case. The Perry County State’s Attorney’s Office also assisted with the investigation.

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