FORMER PERRY COUNTY AGRICULTURAL SOCIETY TREASURER SENTENCED TO 21 MONTHS IN FEDERAL PRISON FOR FRAUD | USAO-SDIL
Benton, Illinois – Yesterday afternoon in federal court in Benton, Illinois, Billy E. Harris, 49, the former
treasurer of the Perry County Agricultural Society (“PCAS”), was sentenced to 21 months in prison
for defrauding PCAS out of more than $148,000.
PCAS manages all festivals at the Perry County Fairgrounds in Pinckneyville, including
the Perry County Fair. Harris, currently of St. Louis, MO, served as Treasurer of PCAS
from 2011 to October 2018. During his plea hearing earlier this year, Harris admitted that from
From June 5, 2012 to October 3, 2018, he defrauded PCAS out of more than $100,000.
Specifically, Harris admitted to paying for his personal expenses and purchasing items for his
personal use, with electronic debit from the PCAS bank account. Many of these items were
purchased through Amazon. Some of the items Harris admitted to buying with PCAS funds
include WiFi Router, Apple AirPods, Himalyan Salt Lamp Air Purifier, Star Wars Darth Vader and
Custom Pet Tags Yoda, a pair of Star Wars men’s sleep pants, a floating pool fountain, a CPAP
tube cleaning brush and grooming products for men including beard lube. Harris also admitted
issue checks on the PCAS account in his name and that of his spouse, and falsify a director’s card
signature on these checks.
At the sentencing hearing yesterday, the sentencing judge noted that Harris’ fraud against PCAS
was the product of greed. In explaining her decision to sentence Harris to prison, the judge said
individuals who prey on small community organizations cannot steal large sums of money and
then just say “I’m sorry” and walk away with no real consequences.
“When individuals like Harris steal from civic groups like the Perry County Agricultural Society,
they are really stealing from the communities the groups serve,” said U.S. Attorney Rachelle
Aud Crowe. “In this case, Harris robbed Perry County residents who love to attend
community events at the Perry County Fairgrounds. We will always seek to hold these people
responsible for their actions. »
In addition to the 21-month prison sentence, the court also ordered Harris to pay $148,908.07 in
return to PCAS. After his release from prison, Harris will then serve a two-year sentence
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 helped
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Scott Verseman and Zoe Gross prosecuted the case.