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Elderly Metro East couple sentenced to house arrest for defrauding family member

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An elderly couple from Freeburg will spend the next year in home confinement and making restitution payments for defrauding a relative out of nearly $200,000.

Ronald and Jean Speiser, both 81, pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud on Aug. 6 and were sentenced in the U.S. Court for the Southern District of Illinois. Their travel beyond their home will be limited to church, medical appointments, and other court-approved activities.

The Speisers paid the victim an initial lump sum of $119,000 as part of their plea agreement and will pay the remainder in monthly installments. They'll serve an additional year of supervised release.

Acting as the power of attorney for an elderly family member, the Speisers deposited a check for over $250,000, into a joint account at the Citizens Community Bank in Mascoutah, that they acquired after the sale of the elderly family member's home.

From about December of 2018 to " at least" June 2020, the Speiser's spent over $200,000 of the victims' money for personal use including home renovations, a new truck, a camper, paying on their credit card bills, as well as for the down payment and 13 mortgage payments for a new home.

"The FBI recognizes that seniors can be a particularly vulnerable group," said Special Agent in Charge David Nanz. "In this case, Ronald and Jean Speiser were in a position of trust, not only as power of attorney but as a family member.

"Rather than being good stewards of the responsibilities entrusted to them, they chose to steal money and use it for their own personal gain. The FBI will not hesitate to investigate those who victimize and take advantage of the elderly citizens of our community."

This case was brought as part of the Department of Justice's Elder Fraud Initiative.

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