A Madison businessman and his brother were sentenced Wednesday in federal court for their participation in a stolen property ring.
In a press release, Acting U.S. Attorney James L. Porter said James D. Litchfield, 59, owner of Big Jim’s Autorama in Madison, and his brother, Ryan P. Litchfield, 37, of O’Fallon, Mo., respectively were sentenced to 3 years and 1 year and 1 day.
The charges arise from an indictment returned by a federal grand jury in East St. Louis on Oct. 20, 2015. The indictment alleges that the leader of the 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 and 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, computers, 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 sold at prices substantially below retail. The profits were wire transferred to Parmeley in Mexico.
When he pleaded guilty on Feb. 11, James Litchfield admitted he received numerous truckloads of items that he knew had been obtained by fraud. This property included construction equipment, appliances and other merchandise, including paint, flooring and siding. These items were delivered to Big Jim’s Autorama. James Litchfield admitted he kept some of the items for personal use, but sold other items at prices far below their retail value. He also admitted he provided two trucks used by the co-conspirators to pick up the items. James Litchfield admitted he engaged in money laundering by wire transferring payments for the merchandise to Parmeley in Mexico under fake names. At the sentencing hearing Wednesday afternoon, the court found that the amount of stolen property James Litchfield received exceeded $150,000.
Ryan Litchfield also pleaded guilty Feb. 11. During his plea hearing, Ryan Litchfield admitted he received approximately 20 to 25 truckloads of property and merchandise obtained by fraud. He sold most of that merchandise to his friends and business associates. On occasion, Ryan Litchfield sold the items by placing advertisements on websites such as Craigslist. He also occasionally allowed Parmeley to store items at his house and rented storage lockers. The court found the amount of stolen property received by Ryan Litchfield was approximately $80,000.
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.
In late August, Mexican authorities deported Parmeley from Mexico. Parmeley is in federal custody and awaiting trial.
In addition to Parmeley and the Litchfields, the indictment charges 12 other individuals with participating in the scheme. Four of those individuals have pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing. The individuals who have pleaded guilty are: Benedict G. Pellerito, 55, of Troy, Mo.; 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 trial of Parmeley and the remaining eight defendants is scheduled to begin Aug. 22, 2016. Those eight defendants are: Angel Speed, 25, formerly of O’Fallon, Mo.; Sean A. Shields, 47, of Ozark, Mo.; Shannan Flora, 41, of Vienna, Ill.; Steven J. Belcher, 44, of Wentzville, Mo.; Jesse S. Urias, 36, of Los Angeles; Rigoberto Gutierrez, 26, of Compton, Calif.; Russell J. Witt, 33, of New Baltimore, Mich; and Bryce E. Atkinson, 21, of Lake Saint Louis, Mo.
As to those defendants who are awaiting trial, the law presumes them to be innocent unless 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. The FBI has received substantial assistance from many state and local police departments in numerous jurisdictions, including the Metro East Auto Theft Task Force and the California Highway Patrol. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott A. Verseman.