A Madison business owner and his brother were sentenced to prison Tuesday after pleading guilty in federal court to several charges involving a widespread fraud scheme. The two are among at least 13 others who were allegedly involved in what Acting U.S. Attorney James Porter described as “a large stolen property ring.”
On Wednesday, Porter said 59-year-old James D. Litchfield was sentenced to three years in prison, while 37-year-old Ryan P. Litchfield was sentenced to one year and one day in prison. Both were sentenced on Tuesday in the Southern District of Illinois for their participation in the fraud ring.
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.
Porter said James owned Big Jim’s Autorama in Madison, where he allegedly received many items obtained in the scheme. James pleaded guilty in February to receiving multiple truckloads of items including construction equipment, appliances and other merchandise. He also admitted to reselling some of the items below retail value, providing trucks used by co-conspirators to pick up other fraudulently-ordered items and money laundering. Porter said the amount of stolen property the defendant received exceeded $150,000.
James’ brother, Ryan, also pleaded guilty earlier this year to similar charges. Porter said Ryan, of O’Fallon, Mo., also received and sold property and merchandise in the fraud ring. Ryan reportedly received $80,000 worth of stolen property.
The fraud scheme was allegedly conducted from Mexico by a former O’Fallon, Mo., resident identified in the news release as the ring leader.
In addition to the Litchfields, the indictment charges 13 other individuals with addresses in Missouri, Illinois, California and Michigan.
The investigation is being conducted by agents from the St. Louis Division of the FBI, and the case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott A. Verseman.