BENTON, IL — The former treasurer of the Perry County Agriculture Society (PCAS) pled guilty Thursday in Benton federal court to defrauding the organization out of $100,000. 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 5th, 2012 through October 3rd, 2018, he defrauded the ag society out of more than $100,000. Specifically, Harris 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 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 ag society’s account payable to himself and his spouse and forging a Board member’s signature on those checks.
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. Harris will be sentenced on May 5, 2022, at 1:30 p.m. PCAS operates all the festivals at the Perry County Fairgrounds in Pinckneyville including the Perry County Fair.