A Milwaukee man and his 20-year-old son have been indicted on federal charges of possessing, selling and passing counterfeit U.S. currency, along with two other men. Their arrests came after an investigation that spanned almost two years and involved local and federal law enforcement officials, as well as confidential informants and store employees where the men allegedly tried to pass the fake bills.
The man's son was largely responsible for bleaching legitimate $5 bills, scanning an image of a $100 bill and printing it onto the $5 bills, according to an informant. The other men would then spend the bills in retail stores throughout Southeastern Wisconsin -- usually on minimal purchases so they could collect the change in legitimate currency. The men also sold some of the counterfeit bills to people who knew they were fake. The federal indictment, which was returned this week, accuses the men of passing more than $25,000 in counterfeit currency.
Authorities tipped off to the counterfeit activity launched an extensive probe almost two years before the men were arrested. Confidential informants began working with the defendants and U.S. Secret Service agents put a tracking device on the pickup truck used to drive the informants to retail stores to spend the counterfeit money. Loss prevention employees at the stores would then identify the men on video surveillance when the GPS tracker showed the truck was at a store.
Facilitating the investigation was the Wisconsin Crime Alert Network, which allows police departments, businesses and residents to easily notify each other of criminal activity and collaborate on statewide investigations. WCAN enabled multiple police departments and retailers to share information with each other and federal authorities.
Such an extensive investigation will make it harder for the men to avoid a conviction, which could put all four of them in prison for up to 25 years. It will be up to their attorneys to examine every detail of the investigation for any missteps in procedure; any evidence unlawfully obtained could have a positive effect on the men's defense.
Source: Menomonee Falls Patch, "Counterfeiting Ring Stretched to Menomonee Falls," Carl Engelking and Janine Anderson, Feb. 14, 2013
- Our firm works with Wisconsin residents who have been charged with federal crimes. To learn more about our practice, visit our Milwaukee white collar crime defense page.