Within the past two weeks, three additional men were sentenced to prison for their roles in a large stolen property ring that operated in the Metro East and other locations. On October 4, 2016, Shannan M. Flora, 42, of O’Fallon, MO, and Rigoberto Gutierrez, 28, of Compton, CA, were both sentenced to 15 months in prison. On Wednesday, Russell J. Witt, 34, of Mount Clemens, MI, was sentenced to 12 months in prison.
The charges against all three men arose 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, operated a large stolen property ring. 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, 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. The items were then sold at prices substantially below retail. The profits were then wire transferred to Parmeley in Mexico. Parmeley lived in Mexico at that time and controlled the fraud ring from that country. 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.
At his sentencing hearing last week, the court found that Flora performed a variety of jobs for the conspiracy over a three-year period, including purchasing several loads of the stolen property, storing other loads of stolen property, brokering deals for the sale of stolen merchandise, recruiting drivers to transport the stolen goods, threatening drivers who stole money or merchandise from the conspiracy, and wire transferring funds to Parmeley in Mexico. During his plea hearing, Gutierrez admitted that, for a period of two years, he received shipments of stolen goods in California, stored those goods, assisted in the sales of the merchandise, and wire transferred funds to Parmeley in Mexico. Witt worked as a driver for the conspiracy for one year.
Early this year, two additional defendants in the case were also sent to prison. On June 7, 2016, James D. Litchfield, 59, owner of Big Jim’s Autorama in Madison, IL, was sentenced to 3 years in prison, and his brother, Ryan P. Litchfield, 37, of O’Fallon, MO, was sentenced to 1 year in prison. Both of the brothers had admitted to receiving large quantities of the stolen property. Two more defendants, Nicholas A. Brockman, 20, of Wentzville, MO, and Benedict G. Pellerito, 56, of Troy, MO, received sentences of probation. Both Brockman and Pellerito worked as drivers for the conspiracy for less than two months.
In late August of this year, Mexican Immigration Authorities deported Parmeley from Mexico. Parmeley is currently in federal custody and is awaiting trial. The trial of Parmeley and three remaining defendants (Angel Speed, 25, formerly of O’Fallon, MO; Steven J. Belcher, 44, of Wentzville, MO; and Jesse S. Urias, 36, of Los Angeles, CA) is scheduled to begin on November 21, 2016.