News and Press Releases

United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner
Eastern District of California

Visalia Man Pleads Guilty to Counterfeiting

FRESNO, Calif. —Tony Choate, 44, of Visalia, pleaded guilty today to manufacturing counterfeit Federal Reserve Notes and possessing with intent to defraud digital images of genuine Federal Reserve Notes, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced.

According to his plea agreement, between July and August 2012, Choate manufactured and used counterfeit $100 dollar bills with matching serial numbers to purchase a computer laptop and welder from sellers in Tulare County. Choate also possessed counterfeit currency, implements for making counterfeit currency, such as laser printers and color copiers, “bleached” genuine currency, and counterfeit detection pens. During the two month period covered by the indictment, Choate made, possessed and passed more than $5,000 in counterfeit currency in Fresno, Tulare and Santa Cruz Counties.

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.

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 sentenced by U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. O’Neill on July 22, 2013. Choate faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison for manufacturing counterfeit money, 25 years in prison for the fraudulent possession of digital images of genuine currency, and a $250,000 fine. The actual sentence, however, will 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.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Docket #: 1:13-cr-111-LJO






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