Amy Hurley and her husband, John, were among the victims caught in a web of deceit by Jack Piersee, owner of the now-defunct Piersee Piano and Organ consignment store in Lee’s Summit.
The Hurley family entered into a consignment deal with Piersee in 2012 to sell the couple’s black Yamaha baby grand piano. After the piano sold, the family expected a check from Piersee for $5,000, the agreed-upon payoff.
The check never came, which prompted the Hurley family to seek answers from the Missouri attorney general’s office.
Last November, Attorney General Chris Koster filed felony charges against Piersee in Jackson County Circuit Court related to the Hurley case and several others.
Piersee pleaded guilty Aug. 7 to 11 felony counts – two counts of felony stealing and nine counts of felony deception and unlawful merchandising practices – and faces more than 60 years in prison if he fails to make full restitution to his victims within the next five years.
After pleading guilty, Piersee made a $10,000 payment on Aug. 11, the first restitution payment toward the $82,178 he owes to former customers. He has also agreed to pay any new victims that come forward to the Missouri attorney general’s office.
Hurley, of Lee’s Summit, said she and her husband are satisfied with the plea agreement.
“Jack Piersee has one chance to compensate his victims and clear his name,” Hurley said after news of the plea became public. “Hopefully, he can meet these terms and pay us victims back for our stolen property.”
Attempts to reach Jack Piersee for comment were unsuccessful. A message left for his attorney, Roger Potter, was not returned before the Journal went to press.
According to Koster’s office, Piersee admitted using his business to steal from customers, keeping proceeds from piano and organ consignment sales for himself. Then he closed his doors with dozens of consumers’ instruments still in his possession.
Piersee operated two piano and organ businesses in Lee’s Summit, through which he entered into consignment agreements with customers, offering to sell their instruments for a sales commission.
Piersee closed both locations in the fall of 2012 without notice to his customers and with approximately 70 instruments remaining in his possession. Piersee told numerous customers that he had sold their instruments and was sending their checks, although many never received payment.
After receiving complaints from customers, Koster’s office found numerous instances of Piersee selling instruments on consignment for thousands of dollars and keeping the sale proceeds for himself. Searches of his business properties found pianos and organs without accompanying records identifying their owners.
“This defendant lied to his customers, and then closed his doors after pocketing thousands of dollars of their money, never intending to reimburse them,” Koster said in a statement announcing the plea agreement. “We intend to closely monitor the progress Mr. Piersee makes toward paying full restitution to his victims.”
According to Koster, in exchange for pleading guilty to the felony charges, Piersee will be on probation for five years, will serve six days of shock time in jail, and can never operate another piano or organ consignment business in the state. He must pay the rest of the $82,178 he owes former customers – in monthly installments starting in September – by the end of his five-year probation period.
If Piersee violates his probation or fails to make timely payments, the judge can impose prison sentences of up to 15 years for each of the two Class B felony stealing counts and up to four years for each of the nine Class D felony deceptive business practices counts.
Hurley hopes Piersee abides by the orders.
“We want him to change his fraudulent ways and this hopefully will be the beginning of Jack living a decent, moral life,” Hurley said.