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Feds get guilty plea in Dewitt County boat fraud case

A gavel sits on a judge's bench. On top of that photo, the words "WGLT Courts" appears.
WGLT file photo

A 58-year-old Farmer City man has pleaded guilty to swindling boat owners and banks out of about $4.7 million.

Federal prosecutors said Jeffrey Gibbs used a DeWitt County boat dealership to take out bank loans on fake boats and false transactions, used forged signatures, sold boats on behalf of owners and then didn’t pay the owners or the taxes and title fees due to the state after collecting them.

Prosecutors said the scheme lasted five years before authorities arrested him in 2020. Gibbs admitted to wire fraud, mail fraud, and aggravated identity theft. He was the operator of the now defunct Mid-Illinois Boats that did business as Clinton Marine-two.

Gibbs will be sentenced Sept. 19 in Peoria along with a co-defendant, Kara Wilkey, 49, of Maroa. She pleaded guilty in 2021.

The investigation involved the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the DeWitt County Sheriff’s Office, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, and the Illinois Secretary of State.

WGLT Senior Reporter Charlie Schlenker has spent more than three award-winning decades in radio. He lives in Normal with his family.