BLOOMINGTON — A Decatur man was arrested Thursday on money laundering, unlawful transaction structuring and tax fraud charges for his role in a 2018 burglary ring across Central Illinois, police said.
U.S. marshal’s task force members and Bloomington Police Department detectives arrested Joseph D. Laramee, 59, at his business, Laramee Jewelers, 415 N. Main St., Decatur, after a “lengthy” investigation by Bloomington police, the Illinois Department of Revenue and the Illinois Attorney General’s Office.
Joseph D. Laramee, 59, of Decatur, is charged with eight counts of unlawful structuring of a currency transaction (class 2 felony), one count of money laundering between $100,000 and $500,000 (class 1 felony), one count of money laundering between $10,000 and $100,000 (class 2 felony), and one count of filing fraudulent Illinois tax returns (class 4 felony).
Laramee is accused of working with Floyd E. Brown, 42, of Springfield, in laundering stolen proceeds from residential burglaries committed between April 1, 2018, and Dec. 31, 2018, in Bloomington, Normal, Champaign and Peoria.
Eight counts of unlawful structuring of a currency transaction (class 2 felony), one count of money laundering between $100,000 and $500,000 (class 1 felony), one count of money laundering between $10,000 and $100,000 (class 2 felony), and one count of filing fraudulent Illinois tax returns (class 4 felony) are filed against Laramee.
Brown was previously arrested in March 2019 hours after killing U.S. Marshal’s Deputy Jacob Keltner after jumping out the third-floor window of a Rockford hotel. Brown then led authorities on a high-speed chase into Central Illinois, reaching 150 mph at times. He barricaded himself when his car stopped in a ravine and police arrested Brown after a six-hour standoff near Interstate 55 north of Lincoln.
Keltner was attempting to serve several active Central Illinois warrants at the time, including three McLean County warrants for residential burglary.
Brown was tied to 50 burglaries throughout Central Illinois in 2018.
Bloomington police said no further information can be released about Laramee’s charges due to the ongoing investigation.
Anyone with information about these crimes is asked to contact Bloomington Police Sergeant Jared Bierbaum at 309-434-2807.
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10 infamous Central Illinois crimes
10 crimes we won't ever forget
The Hendricks murders
In a case that sent shockwaves through Bloomington-Normal, Susan Hendricks, 30, and her three children, Rebekah, 9, Grace, 7, and Benjamin, 5, were axed to death in the bedrooms of their east Bloomington home in November 1983. A short time later, husband David Hendricks was charged with the grisly deaths, still known today as "the Hendricks murders." (Stunned by the brutal deaths, residents kept locksmiths busy securing their own homes.) Convicted and sentenced to life in prison in 1984, Hendricks was later acquitted in a 1991 retrial. Bloomington police closed the case seven years after David Hendricks’ acquittal; today Hendricks lives in Florida with his fourth wife.
The community was again stunned beyond belief when an execution-style slaying left three dead at Bloomington's S&S Liquors in October 1988. Killed were employee Robert Webb, 31, and customers Whitney Cole, 24, and Scott Burton, 30. Another employee was knocked unconscious, but survived the attack and provided descriptions of the killers. More than two years later, 35-year-old Glenn Wilson of Bloomington, was the first suspect indicted for murder. Wilson's half-brothers, Alvin Alexander, 30, and Howard "Monkey" Wilson, 39, both of Springfield, later faced similar charges. Glenn Wilson, the trigger man, was sentenced to death, but later had his sentence commuted to life. His half-brothers received life sentences and his former girlfriend, Margaret Wilson, 29, also received a five-year sentence for perjury. The store closed and today the space is empty.
One of Bloomington's most high-profile criminal cases required police to investigate one of their own. Former Sgt. Jeff Pelo of Downs was convicted in 2008 of raping four women and stalking a fifth while he worked for the department. Police said Pelo would commit the crimes, and then come to work as a shift supervisor investigating the crimes. Pelo, shown above with his then-wife Rickielee Pelo, is serving 375 years in prison.
Clinton Lake drownings
Amanda Hamm's three young children, Christopher Hamm, 6, Austin Brown, 3, and Kyleigh Hamm, 23 months, drowned in Clinton Lake in September 2003. The kids were in the back seat of the Clinton woman's 1997 Oldsmobile Cutlass that was driven by Hamm’s then-boyfriend, Maurice LaGrone Jr., when it submerged. Hamm and LaGrone told police the car rolled down a boat ramp and the deaths were accidental, but three months later the pair was arrested and charged with first-degree murder. The case drew comparisons to Susan Smith, the South Carolina woman who in 1994 admitted that she deliberately drowned her children by driving them into a lake. Hamm served five years for child endangerment while LaGrone is serving life for murder. Today, the remarried Hamm is known as Amanda Ware and she and her husband are fighting to regain custody of their three children that the state removed from their Chicago home after it learned of the deaths of her other children.
Jon White is every parent's nightmare. The former Unit 5 teacher pleaded guilty in 2008 to 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse in McLean and Champaign counties. Eight counts involved the molestation of nine students in 2005 and 2006 in his second-grade classroom at Thomas Paine School, Urbana. Two others involved two students at Colene Hoose Elementary School in Normal, where he taught first grade during the 2004-2005 school year. White, shown above with his father, at left, during a 2008 court appearance in Urbana, is serving 60 years in prison. In settlement agreements reached with four Unit 5 students and nine in Urbana, neither school district admitted any wrongdoing.
Illinois State University student Jennifer Lockmiller, 22, was found Aug. 28, 1993, strangled and stabbed in her Main Street apartment. The senior journalism major and Decatur native was dead two to four days when a female friend checking on her well-being found her body. Former boyfriend Alan Beaman was convicted of two counts of murder in 1995. After spending 13 years behind bars, Beaman’s conviction was overturned in 2008 by the Illinois Supreme Court. He received a certificate of innocence from the court in 2013 and clemency from former Gov. Pat Quinn two years later. Beaman and his family live in Rockford,where is is from. Lockmiller's case remains open.
The tiny Logan County community of Beason lost five of its residents when Raymond "Rick" and Ruth Gee and three of their children, Justina Constant, 16, Dillen Constant, 14, and Austin Gee, 11, were killed in their home in 2009. Tabitha Gee, 3, at the time, recovered from injuries and lives in Peoria. In 2013, 34-year-old Christopher Harris, of Armington was sentenced to five life terms in prison after a Peoria County jury convicted him of murder. His brother, Jason Harris, 25, pleaded guilty to lesser charges the same year and was sentenced to 20 years for concealment of a homicide, delivery of a controlled substance and obstruction of justice. The single-story Gee home, pictured above, was burned to the ground by Beason firefighters in 2014 at the request of the family.
Seven-year-old Dalton Mesarchik of Streator disappeared in March 2003 while waiting outside his family’s home for a church van that never arrived. His body was found the next day a short distance away, at a boat launch on the Vermilion River in rural south Streator. Police recovered a three-pound, short-handled sledgehammer they believe was used in the unsolved murder. In 2014, the boy's mother, Michelle Mesarchik
, said she knows who murdered her son and applauded police investigators for their continuing efforts to build a case. A $50,000 reward remains.
Duncan and Jack Leichtenberg
In March 2009, Michael Connolly picked up his two sons, Duncan and Jack Leichtenberg, from his ex-wife, Amy Leichtenberg, in LeRoy for a weekend visit but he didn't bring them home. Three weeks after a nationwide search began, the boys and Connolly were found dead in a remote wooded area of Putnam County in a murder-suicide. Amy Leichtenberg, who had been stalked, abused and threatened by her ex-husband, later filed a $10 million federal lawsuit against the LeRoy police department,
alleging it didn’t take her concerns about her sons’ safety seriously enough in the initial hours after Connolly failed to return them. The city settled with Leichtenberg in 2013 for $1.2 million. Leichtenberg, pictured above in 2009, has become an advocate and helped organize the annual Taking Steps to End Child Abuse 5K Run/1 Mile Walk to honor her sons' memory.
Jon Morgan sentencing hearing
In this Nov. 26, 1996, file photo, Logan County sheriff's deputies escort Jon Morgan into the Logan County Courthouse in Lincoln for his sentencing hearing. The teenager was sentenced to a total of 75 years in prison in the shooting deaths of his maternal grandparents, Keith and Lila Cearlock.