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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Virginia

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

New York Man Involved In Israeli Counterfeiting Ring Pleads Guilty

RICO conspiracy involved millions in counterfeit currency being circulated along the East Coast

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Johnny Elegante Lee, 45, of Roosevelt, New York, who was one of 13 alleged members of a criminal counterfeiting operation that manufactured, produced and distributed millions of dollars up and down the eastern United States, pleaded guilty yesterday to participating in a racketeering conspiracy. 

Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Kathy Michalko, U.S. Secret Service Special Agent in Charge, Washington Field Office, made the announcement after the plea was accepted by U.S. District Judge Liam O’Grady. 

Lee was indicted on Aug. 7, 2014, by a federal grand jury. In a statement of facts filed with his plea agreement, Lee admitted that from 2004 through his arrest in June 2014, he was a member of a criminal enterprise that manufactured, produced,  distributed and uttered  millions of high-quality counterfeit $100 Federal Reserve Notes that were manufactured in Israel and the United States.  The counterfeit U.S. currency was printed on off-set printing presses and sold to dealers such as Lee, and then uttered at retail establishments throughout the eastern United States, resulting in loss to merchants and individuals who provided goods and services in exchange for counterfeit $100 bills. Lee also admitted that his previous counterfeiting conviction in Richmond, Virginia in 2004 was part of his participation in this enterprise.

He faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison when he is sentenced on January 9, 2015.  The maximum statutory sentences outlined above are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendants will be determined by the court based on the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

This case was investigated by the United States Secret Service.  Assistant United States Attorneys Kimberly R. Pedersen and Gordon L. Kromberg are prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.

A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia.  Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 1:14-cr-00206.

Updated August 11, 2016