Mail hauler pleads not guilty

By John A. Ballentine

TOULON – A Wyoming-based mail hauler plead not guilty to five charges that range from theft by deception to mail fraud last Friday in Stark County Circuit Court.

Keith A. Ratcliff, 53, of Wyoming appeared for a case review hearing, along with his private attorney, Kevin F. Sullivan, of Peoria. His case involves an alleged $1.9 million theft from the United States Postal Service.

Ratcliff also demanded a trial, which is set for Dec. 3. Additionally, Sullivan requested a continuance so that he can examine over 5,000 pages of discovery information.

Ratcliff is alleged to have collected in excess of $1.9 million for reimbursement from the U.S. Postal Service for Workers’ Compensation insurance payments without having actually purchased the insurance. According to Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, the “scheme” occurred between July 1, 2005 ,and Nov. 18, 2017.

Ratcliff had been engaged in hauling mail to various locations in western Illinois from Peoria. He is also owner of Wyoming’s Pour House tavern. The trucking business is headquartered in Stark County, in Wyoming.

The other reason Ratcliff’s case is set in Stark County court is because his residence is in Wyoming.

Bond has been set at $50,000 with 10 percent to apply. Ratcliff paid the $5,000 on Aug. 8 and has been free from incarceration since that date.

Charges against Ratcliff are three theft by deception, one of which is a Class X felony. The other two are Class 1 felonies. In addition, Ratcliff faces two Class 3 mail fraud charges. Class X felonies are punishable by up to 30 years in prison. Class 1 felonies bring up to 15 years in prison and Class 3 felonies are five years in prison apiece.

Ratcliff was arraigned Aug. 7 in Marshall County. The investigation into these charges was initiated by the Postal Service Office of the Inspector General, but referred to Madigan’s office.

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