State

Man imprisoned for bilking Ill. church, school

EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. — A southwestern Illinois man has been ordered to spend more than five years in federal prison for using schemes involving leased copy machines to defraud a school, a church and several community groups.

Forty-nine-year-old Kevin Welch of Altamont also was ordered to pay nearly $1.5 million in restitution.

Welch pleaded guilty last November to charges of mail fraud and engaging in a fraudulent financial transaction involving more than $10,000.

Authorities say the fraud took place from 2001 to 2009.

In 2010, Governor French Academy in Belleville won a $1.2 million verdict against Welch after he took copy machine lease payments from the private school and pocketed the proceeds. The school lost nearly $500,000 in machines and lease payments.

Prosecutors say he also defrauded the St. Boniface Catholic Church in Edwardsville.

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