BOSTON – A Maryland man was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Springfield today for a number of charges related to the altering of U.S. currency in connection with a "black money" scheme.
Cole Williams, 32, of Frederick, Md., was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Michael A. Ponsor to 27 months in prison, $329,000 in restitution to five victims, and forfeiture of $329,000.
In November 2013, Williams pleaded guilty to conspiracy, wire fraud, and possession of altered U.S. currency with intent to defraud involving a fraud scheme in Springfield, Mass. Williams admitted that he perpetrated similar "black money" schemes in Billerica, Leominster, Groton, Conn., and Woonsocket, R.I.
In the charged scheme, Williams and another co-conspirator defrauded two businessmen who operated Village Pizza in Indian Orchard, Mass. Williams and his partner first offered to purchase Village Pizza with $150,000 of what they called “black money,” which they represented to be genuine U.S. currency that had been altered to appear completely black, and they said, could be converted back into genuine currency through a chemical process. They claimed the currency had been colored black as part of a plan to smuggle it back to the U.S. from Africa.
In July 2011 at Village Pizza, Williams and the co-conspirator presented the two businessmen with genuine U.S. currency that they had previously coated black, and then used chemicals and powder to remove the black coating, thereby convincing the two businessmen into believing that they really possessed hundreds of thousands of dollars in “black money.” Williams and the co-conspirator then induced the businessmen to provide them with $50,000 in cash, which they said they would use to convert more “black money” into genuine U.S. currency that they promised to give to the businessman in exchange for the pizza restaurant. Williams and the co-conspirator then pretended to use the businessmen’s $50,000 to convert their “black money,” which was simply black paper cut to the size and shape of U.S currency, and then they took the $50,000 and left the businessmen with a large amount of black paper. The co-conspirator was indicted for a similar scheme in Rhode Island, but fled prior to trial, and is a fugitive from justice.
United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz and Stephen Marks, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the United States Secret Service, made the announcement today. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven H. Breslow of Ortiz's Springfield Branch Office.