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Treasurer of southwest Illinois county fair stole $100,000 to buy pajamas, other items

Treasurer of southwest Illinois county fair stole $100,000 to buy pajamas, other items

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BELLEVILLE — A former treasurer for the Perry County Agricultural Society was convicted of mail fraud on Thursday in the U.S. Court for the Southern District of Illinois.

Billy E. Harris, 48, of St. Louis admitted to defrauding the Perry County Agricultural Society for more than $100,000 from June 5, 2012, to Oct. 3, 2018. The society organizes the annual county fair.

Harris wrote checks on the society's account payable to himself and his wife, forging a board member's signature on the checks. Harris also acknowledged that he paid personal expenses and bought items for his personal use, mostly through Amazon and PayPal, charging document say.

Harris admitted to spending the Agricultural Society's funds on such items as personalized Darth Vader and Yoda pet tags, Star Wars men's sleeping pants, a CPAP tube cleaner, a WiFi router, Apple AirPods, a Himalayan Salt Lamp Air Purifier, a floating pool fountain, and men's grooming products, including beard lube.

Harris served as treasurer of the Perry County Agricultural Society from 2011 to Oct 2018, according to a release from the court.

Harris is scheduled for sentencing at 1:30 p.m. May 5 at the federal courthouse in Benton.

The mail fraud charge carries a maximum sentence of up to 20 years in prison, a maximum fine of up to $250,000, and up to three years of probation, according to the release. In addition, Harris can be ordered to pay full restitution to the Perry County Agricultural Society, said the release.

The St. Louis Office of the Postal Inspection Service and the Pinckneyville Police Department investigated the case, with assistance from the Perry County State's Attorney's Office, the court release stated.

The case was prosecuted by Scott Verseman, Assistant State's Attorney.

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