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Feds plead guilty in Dewitt County boat fraud case

A 58-year-old Farmer City man has pleaded guilty to defrauding boat owners and banks of approximately $4.7 million.

Federal prosecutors said Jeffrey Gibbs used a DeWitt County boat dealer to take out bank loans for fake boats and bogus transactions, used forged signatures, sold boats in the owners’ names and then failed to pay the owners or the taxes and title fees due on the state after collecting them .

Prosecutors said the scheme lasted five years before authorities arrested him in 2020. Gibbs admitted to wire fraud, mail fraud and aggravated identity theft. He was the operator of the now defunct Mid-Illinois Boats, which did business as Clinton Marine-two.

Gibbs will be sentenced Sept. 19 in Peoria along with a co-defendant, Kara Wilkey, 49, of Maroa. She pleaded guilty in 2021.

The investigation involved the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the DeWitt County Sheriff’s Office, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and the Illinois Secretary of State.

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