Former Perry County Agricultural Society treasurer pleads guilty to fraud

The former treasurer of the Perry County Agricultural Society pleaded guilty Thursday to defrauding the Agricultural Society of more than $100,000.

Billy E. Harris, 48, and currently living in St. Louis, admitted in Benton federal court that between June 5, 2012 and October 3, 2018, he paid personal expenses and purchased items for personal use with PCAS electronic debits. Bank account.

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

He was charged in July 2021 with 10 counts of mail fraud in the Southern District of Illinois, US District Court.

Harris is due to be sentenced at 1:30 p.m. on May 5, 2022.

The mail fraud charge for which Harris was convicted carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, a maximum fine of $250,000 and a period of supervised release of up to three year.

In addition, Harris may be ordered to pay full restitution to PCAS.

The Perry County Agricultural Society holds all festivals at the Perry County Fairgrounds in Pinckneyville, including the annual Perry County Fair. As treasurer, Harris was a volunteer.

Authorities say the items Harris admitted to buying with PCAS funds include a Wi-Fi router, Apple AirPods, a Himalayan salt lamp air purifier, personalized pet tags Star Wars Darth Vader and Yoda, a pair of Star Wars men’s sleep pants, a pool fountain float, a CPAP tube cleaning brush, and men’s toiletries.

The St. Louis office of the United States Postal Inspection Service and the Pinckneyville Police Department investigated the case. The Perry County State’s Attorney’s Office also participated in the investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Scott Verseman prosecuted the case.

Amalia H. Mercado