Former Perry County Ag Society Treasurer Pleads Guilty to Fraud Charges

Former Perry County Ag Society Treasurer Pleads Guilty to Fraud Charges

BENTON – The former treasurer of the Perry County Agriculture Society (PCAS) pled guilty Thursday in federal court in Benton to defrauding the organization out of $100,000. PCAS operates all of the festivals at the Perry County Fairgrounds in Pinckneyville, including the Perry County Fair.

According to court records, 48-year-old Billy E. Harris, currently of St. Louis, served as PCAS treasurer from 2011 through October 2018.

When Harris appeared in court Thursday, he admitted that from June 5, 2012 through October 3, 2018, he defrauded the PCAS out of more than $100,000.

Specifically, he acknowledged that he paid his personal expenses, and purchased items for his personal use, with electronic debits from the PCAS bank account. Many of those items were purchased through Amazon.

Some of the items that Harris admitted purchasing with PCAS funds include 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, a floating pool fountain, a CPAP tube cleaning brush, and men’s grooming products, including beard lube.

Harris also admitted writing checks on the PCAS account payable to himself and his spouse, and forging a Board member’s signature on those checks. He will be sentenced May 5 at 1:30 p.m.

The mail fraud charge on which Harris has been convicted carries a maximum sentence of up to 20 years of imprisonment, a maximum fine of up to $250,000, and a period of supervised release of up to 3 years. In addition, Harris can 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.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott Verseman prosecuted the case.

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