News and Press Releases

Columbia Postal Worker Pleads Guilty to Counterfeit Money Violation

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 9, 2014

Contact Person: Winston Holliday (803) 929-3000

Columbia, South Carolina ----- United States Attorney Bill Nettles stated today that Richard  P. Houghtalen, age 46, of Columbia, South Carolina, has entered a guilty plea in federal court in Columbia, to Passing or Possessing Counterfeit Obligations of the United States, a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 472.  United States District Judge Joseph F. Anderson, Jr., of Columbia accepted the guilty plea and will sentence Houghtalen after the U.S. Probation Office prepares the presentence report.

Evidence presented at the change of plea hearing established that Richard P. Houghtalen was a postal worker in Columbia.  His route included the United States Secret Service.  As part of the Secret Service's mission, it receives counterfeit money from banks and merchants for identification and investigation.  Houghtalen stole the Secret Service’s mail, opened it, and took the counterfeit money out.  He then either sold it for a discount off the face value or used it to buy things for himself, sometimes drugs.  In all, he obtained counterfeit bills worth just over $10,000.

Mr. Nettles stated the maximum penalty for this violation is imprisonment for 20 years and a fine of $250,000.

The case was investigated by agents of the United States Secret Service and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Winston David Holliday, Jr., of the Columbia office.

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