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2 Central Illinois Ex-Boat Dealer Managers Charged In $2M Fraud Scheme

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Two former boat dealership employees are charged in a $2 million fraud scheme.

Federal prosecutors have charged two former employers of a central Illinois boat and watercraft dealership in an alleged $2 million fraud scheme.The U.S. Attorney’s Office for Central Illinois announced the charges Monday against Jeffrey Gibbs, 55, of Farmer City, and Kara Wilkey, 45, of Maroa.

Gibbs made his first appearance Monday in U.S. District Court in Peoria. Wilkey is scheduled to appear in court on Jan. 12, 2021.

According to the indictment, Gibbs and Wilkey ran a scheme that defrauded their former employer, Clinton Marine, along with banks and the dealerships’ customers.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said Gibbs and Wilkey used their management positions to obtain loans on fictitious boats from January 2014 to July 2019. They allegedly sold the non-existent boats on behalf of customers, but did not pay off the customers’ loans or remit payment to the seller, and collected payment for taxes, titles and fees--but did not pay those expenses.

The two spent the money to buy their own automobiles, vacations, credit cards, utilities and shopping, according to prosecutors.

Clinton Marine has dealerships in East Peoria and Weldon in eastern DeWitt County.

Both face nine counts of wire fraud, two counts of mail fraud, four counts of bank fraud and three counts of aggravated identity theft. Mail fraud and wire fraud charges can lead to a sentence of up to 20 years in prison for each count. Bank fraud carries a 30-year maximum sentence. Identity theft is punishable by up to two years in prison.

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