Saul Rodrigo Tinoco Pastor Pleads Guilty in U.S. Federal Cour
The United States Attorney's Office announced that during a federal court session in Billings, on August 17, 2010, before Chief U.S. District Judge Richard F. Cebull, SAUL RODRIGO TINOCO PASTOR, a 28-year-old resident of Los Angeles, California, pled guilty to conspiracy to pass counterfeit currency and counterfeiting. Sentencing has been set for November 17, 2010. He is currently detained.
In an Offer of Proof filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan M. Archer, the government stated it would have proved at trial the following:
On March 6 -7, 2009, merchants in the Billings area began receiving numerous counterfeit $100 bills.
On March 7-8, 2009, merchants in the Great Falls area began receiving the same kind of $100 bills. These counterfeit notes contain different serial numbers, but had common identifiers such as a face plate number G-24 and a back plate number 29. All the notes were a 1999 series.
Further analysis conducted by the United States Secret Service indicated that these particular counterfeit notes are known as "circular 22705" or "C-22705." The Secret Service has tracked this counterfeit note since 2003 and it is known to be in a "family" of counterfeit notes manufactured in Peru. According to Secret Service statistics, these Peruvian notes have constituted $7.8 million dollars circulated across the United States in the past year. In addition, $446,280 in fake U.S. currency from Peru was seized before it was circulated in the United States (mostly ports or airports), and more than $18.2 million in raids in Peru.
Several merchants who received these counterfeit notes in Billings and Great Falls provided surveillance photographs of the counterfeit passes. These photos depict two Hispanic males passing the counterfeit $100 bills. An agent contacted a motel in Billings and discovered that a Hispanic male stayed there the night of March 6 and listed one other adult as staying in the room. The receipt showed that Victor Andia checked into the motel, listing his address in Reseda, California. A criminal history check revealed that Andia was arrested in February 2009 for reckless driving in Oregon. Reports indicated that Andia was the driver and PASTOR was Andia's passenger during that incident.
Driver's license photographs of Andia and PASTOR were compared to surveillance images of counterfeit passes in Great Falls and Billings, which clearly identified Andia and PASTOR as the individuals passing counterfeit notes. A photo lineup was shown to an employee of a store in Billings where one of the counterfeit notes was passed. The employee positively identified PASTOR as the individual who passed the counterfeit note. Additional surveillance images show individuals that appear to be Andia and PASTOR making passes at various locations in Billings and Great Falls.
Additional investigation identified PASTOR as having connections in California that provided him with the C-22705 counterfeit notes that were passed in Montana. In all, Andia and PASTOR passed over $12,000 in Montana in the course of a few days.
Andia pled guilty to federal charges and has been sentenced.
PASTOR faces possible penalties of 15 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and 3 years supervised release.
The investigation was conducted by the U.S. Secret Service.
A copy of the Offer of Proof can be obtained by contacting Sally Frank at (406) 247-4638.