EAST ST. LOUIS - Victoria McGee-Harris, 58, of St. Louis, pleaded guilty today in federal court to defrauding clients out of more than $6 million by enticing them into paying for various investment products and insurance products she never purchased.
McGee-Harris, who conducted business as Metro East Insurance Group, was a licensed insurance agent and securities broker registered with Tower Square Securities, Inc., a MetLife Company.
As part of the plea she admitted that she diverted, deposited and commingled the funds she obtained through her fraudulent schemes into accounts she controlled at various banks. She then diverted the commingled client funds for her own personal use, to increase her personal wealth and possessions, to travel to various destinations, to purchase and rehab rental properties, to finance the operation of a chain of clothing stores d/b/a Essential Elements in Chesterfield and Ladue and and Elements of Denim in Clayton, to pay personal expenses and to fund investments on behalf of her clients.
She pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud and one count of engaging in a monetary transaction over $10,000 in property derived from specified unlawful activity.
McGee-Harris faces a total statutory penalty of up to 30 years' imprisonment, a fine of up to $250,000, or both, and a term of supervised release of up to three years with mandatory restitution.
Sentencing has been scheduled for July 8.
McGee-Harris admitted the scheme took place from January 2003 through January 2010.
The plea follows an investigation by the Illinois Securities Department, the Internal Revenue Service/Criminal Investigations and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.
The prosecution of the case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Norman R. Smith