News Release
For Immediate Release:
April 13, 2010
Contact: Special Agent Tony Pettigrew
Number: 617-557-2138

Bloomfield Man Sentenced To 12 Years In Prison For Trafficking Cocaine, Running Large Check Fraud Scheme

APR 13 -- Steven W. Derr, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration for New England and Nora R. Dannehy, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that ANTHONY SPENCE, 46, of Bloomfield, was sentenced today by United States District Judge Christopher F. Droney in Hartford to 144 months of imprisonment, followed by five years of supervised release, for participating in both a conspiracy to distribute more than 25 kilograms of cocaine, and a scheme to defraud large retail stores of more than $1.2 million using counterfeit checks. On December 21, 2009, SPENCE pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine and one count stemming from the possession and use of counterfeit checks.

According to court documents and statements made in court, between 2006 and his arrest in May 2009, SPENCE conspired to import large amounts of cocaine from Texas into Connecticut. During the course of the conspiracy, SPENCE made several trips to Texas to procure cocaine from an individual in Texas. The investigation revealed that, in January 2007, SPENCE arranged for another co-conspirator to transport approximately 26 kilograms of cocaine from Texas to Connecticut, while SPENCE traveled in a separate car directly in front of the pickup truck that was transporting the cocaine. The pickup truck was stopped by police in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the cocaine was seized and the driver was arrested. SPENCE was not stopped or arrested at that time.

In May 2009, SPENCE was arrested after he received three kilograms of cocaine from the individual in Texas who had traveled to Connecticut. The cocaine was seized by DEA agents following the execution of a search warrant in the Hartford apartment of SPENCE’s girlfriend. During the search, agents also seized a scale, a forged check, and a fake identification card with SPENCE’s picture on it.

The investigation further revealed that, in part to finance his cocaine trafficking activities, SPENCE also participated in a scheme in which he and others defrauded several retailers, primarily Home Depot and Lowe’s, of more than $1.2 million. The scheme involved the counterfeiting of business and personal checks using names that were either created or taken from the phone book. The checks were printed on actual check stock paper and purported to be drawn on actual banks. The account numbers, however, were fake. SPENCE and his co-conspirators also purchased numerous fraudulent “non-government” official photo identification cards. The cards each had a name that matched at least one of the counterfeit checks, and had the picture of the co-conspirator who would attempt to negotiate the particular counterfeit check.

SPENCE and his co-conspirators then used the counterfeit checks and false identification cards to buy multiple items at the victim stores, primarily purchasing large appliances and tools from Lowe’s and Home Depot. The perpetrators then loaded the items onto a truck and delivered them to storage facilities. Typically, the items were then sold to contractors. SPENCE and his co-conspirators victimized stores not only in Connecticut, but also in several other eastern states, as well as Texas.

Today, Judge Droney ordered SPENCE to pay restitution in the amount of $1,240,155 to the victim stores.

SPENCE has prior convictions, including a 1997 federal bank fraud conviction in the District of Connecticut for which he received a sentence of 46 months of imprisonment, five years of supervised release, a fine of $7500 and restitution in the amount of $125,936.26. On July 17, 2003, SPENCE received an additional six months of imprisonment for violating conditions of his supervised release.

This matter is being investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the United States Secret Service and the United States Postal Inspection Service.