Richmond Woman Charged with Defrauding Tongan Community in $13 Million Stockton-Based International Ponzi Scheme
FRESNO, Calif. — A federal grand jury returned a one-count indictment today against Kenneth Dwayne Choate, 51, of Pismo Beach, charging him with manufacturing counterfeit U.S. currency, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced. Choate was ordered detained by Judge Stanley A. Boone on July 23, 2015, after being arrested on a federal criminal complaint.
According to court documents, on May 31, 2015, a vendor at the Visalia Swap Meet reported to law enforcement that someone was passing counterfeit money. The investigation led to Choate, who had a motel room in Visalia. Officers obtained a search warrant for the room, and contacted Choate and a co-conspirator at the front door of the room. A search was conducted and officers found more than $30,000 in counterfeit bills, multiple printers, numerous boxes of drafting paper, and printing and cutting supplies.
This case is the product of an investigation by the U.S. Secret Service, with assistance from the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney Grant B. Rabenn and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Katherine A. Plante are prosecuting the case.
If convicted, Choate faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison 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; the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.