News and Press Releases

United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner
Eastern District of California

Tulare Man Indicted on Counterfeiting Charges

Thursday, March 21, 2013

FRESNO, Calif. — A federal grand jury today returned a five-count indictment charging Tony Choate, 44, of Visalia, with making, passing and dealing in counterfeit Federal Reserve Notes, and possessing with intent to defraud digital images of genuine Federal Reserve Notes, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced.

Choate has been in custody since his arrest on March 7, 2013, and was ordered detained as a flight risk. He is scheduled to be arraigned on March 22, 2013.

According to the indictment, between July and August 2012, Choate used counterfeit $100 dollar bills with matching serial numbers to purchase a computer laptop and welder from sellers in Tulare County. According to court documents, Choate also possessed at his residence and various hotel rooms he occupied counterfeit currency, implements for making counterfeit currency, such as laser printers and color copiers, “bleached” genuine currency, and counterfeit detection pens.

This case is the product of an investigation by the U.S. Secret Service and Visalia Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Baker is prosecuting the case.

If convicted, Choate faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison for making, passing and dealing counterfeit money, and 25 years in prison for the fraudulent possession of digital images count, and a $250,000 fine. Any sentence, however, would be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.

The charges are only allegations and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.



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