A man created thousands of dollars in fake cash with the help of a printer, according to federal prosecutors, and he and his partner went shopping with the manufactured money in Florida.
Now, the man is headed to prison, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida.
After authorities traced the serial numbers on the counterfeit bills — which prosecutors said were used to buy gift cards, food and other purchases in 2022 — they were led to the Panama City couple, who were staying at a Comfort Inn in Palm Bay in November 2022, according to court documents.
During the execution of a search warrant, Palm Bay police officers found around $30,000 in fake bills and a printer used to create the cash inside the man and woman’s Comfort Inn hotel room, where the woman was arrested, a plea agreement says.
The man was arrested at a nearby restaurant and was found with more counterfeit currency, according to prosecutors and the plea agreement.
When officers asked if he created the fake cash, he said “counterfeit currency just prints itself,” the plea agreement says.
A judge has sentenced the man, 42, to one year and six months in federal prison after he was accused of manufacturing counterfeit Federal Reserve Notes, the attorney’s office said in a Sept. 27 news release.
He must also pay restitution to the businesses he defrauded, prosecutors said.
According to his plea agreement, the businesses include Circle K, Publix, Walgreens and Winn-Dixie in Brevard, Clay, Duval, and Seminole counties. Prosecutors didn’t specify how much money in fake cash he’s accused of spending at those stores.
The man’s federal public defender, Waffa Hanania, declined a request for comment from McClatchy News on Sept. 28.
Upon his arrest, the man accepted responsibility for his actions and has expressed remorse and regret since, Hanania wrote in a sentencing memo submitted on his behalf.
“Much of the counterfeit currency that (he) was manufacturing was of such poor quality that they were almost immediately recognized as counterfeit by the persons to whom they were presented,” Hanania said, adding that his actions were “unsophisticated and poorly thought out.”
He created the fake cash to provide for his “subsistence needs,” Hanania added.
His partner and co-defendant pleaded guilty in June to four counts of passing Federal Reserve notes, according to prosecutors. She is scheduled to be sentenced in the case on Nov. 2.
Her defense attorney, Patrick K. Korody, told McClatchy News in a statement on Sept. 28 that she “immediately accepted absolute responsibility” by pleading guilty “without a plea agreement.”
Korody said his client is “extremely remorseful” and “her life spiraled out of control and she wishes she could go back and choose a different path.”
The couple is serving time in state prison in connection with violating probation ”on multiple charges related” to using counterfeit cash, prosecutors said.
They were investigated by the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, the Palm Bay Police Department, the Orange Park Police Department, the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office, and the United States Secret Service - Jacksonville Field Office, according to the release.