By John Diedrich
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
MILWAUKEE, Wisc. — Federal agents have broken up a counterfeit money ring that authorities say took small bills and made them into big ones by bleaching and then reprinting them — passing more than $92,000 of the phony cash, according to a 29-count indictment unsealed Tuesday.
Fourteen people, ages 18 to 49, were apprehended over the past two weeks by U.S. Secret Service and Milwaukee police. Authorities are looking for a final suspect, Joseph "CK" Nash, 20, who is accused of making and passing the bills. Anyone with information is asked to call the U.S. marshals at (414) 297-3587.
The defendants are: Trivon Carter, 27; Terrell Hunley, 19; Ricky Trotter, 19; Roosevelt Tucker, 18; Stephen Holt Jr., 18; Stephen Holt Sr., 49; Robert W. Johnson, 36; Latasha Pritchard, 34; LaShawn Coley, 32; Chris Howlett, 19; Don-Ray Olds, 38; Michael Olive, 23; Lakesha Anderson, 27; and Relanda Davis, 38. All are from Milwaukee except for Stephen Holt Sr., who is from Glendale.
If convicted, they each face up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine on a conspiracy count. In addition, they face up to 20 years and a $250,000 for each charge of passing the bad bills. Several of the defendants face multiple charges. Carter, Hunley, Nash, Pritchard and Stephen Holt Sr., also are charged with making the counterfeit bills, the indictment says.
Using what was called a "magic potion" bought at a retail store, the defendants "bleached" $1 and $5 bills in hotel rooms, vacant houses and other places, the indictment says. Then they used older $50 and $100 bills that don't have tough security features and copied them with a printer on to the bleached lesser-amount bills, it says.
The counterfeit bills were passed at several stores over a short period of time to avoid detection, and sometimes defendants returned items they purchased for cash, the indictment says. They also used the phony bills to buy drugs. When confronted about the counterfeit money, the defendants would say they were unwittingly given the bills by other people, stores or a bank, and would show receipts or bank forms to support their claims, it says.
Fake bills were passed at a hospital gift shop, car wash, coffee shop, fast food restaurant, electronics store and gas station. The IRS investigated the case.
Copyright 2007 The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Milwaukee police and feds bust counterfeit money ring