Las Cruces Residents Plead Guilty to Federal Counterfeiting Charges
ALBUQUERQUE – Andrew Barnett, 36, and Summer Provencio, 36, both of Las Cruces, N.M., pled guilty today in federal court to conspiring to create and pass counterfeit U.S. currency.
Barnett and Provencio, together with co-defendants Victoria Perez, 41, and Patrick Fernandez, 33, both of Las Cruces, were charged in a 183-count indictment filed on Feb. 15, 2017. Count 1 of the indictment charged the four defendants with conspiring to create fraudulent U.S. currency from April 2016 through Sept. 2016. Counts 2 to 57 charged Barnett alone with manufacturing counterfeit currency in various denominations from April 2016 through Sept. 2016. Counts 58 to 116 charged Barnett and Perez with manufacturing counterfeit currency in $20 denominations on May 8, 2016. Counts 117 to 124 charged Barnett and Provencio with using counterfeit currency to make purchases on April 18, 2016; and Counts 125 to 183 charged Barnett, Perez and Fernandez with using counterfeit currency to make purchases on May 8, 2016. According to the indictment, the defendants committed these offenses in Dona Ana County, N.M.
During today’s proceedings, Barnett pled guilty to Count 1 of the indictment charging him with conspiracy. In entering the guilty plea, Barnett admitted that from April 2016 through Sept. 2016, he conspired with his co-defendants to manufacture and use counterfeit U.S. currency. According to his plea agreement, on April 18, 2016, Barnett created eight counterfeit five-dollar bills by scanning a real five-dollar bill and printing copies on a home printer. Barnett gave the counterfeit bills to Provencio, who used the bills to pay for hair and nail products at a Las Cruces beauty supply store. On May 8, 2016, Barnett created about 125 counterfeit $20 bills by printing copies on a home printer; this counterfeit currency was used to make purchases at a Las Cruces auto salvage business.
Provencio also pled guilty today to the conspiracy count of the indictment, and admitted that on April 18, 2016, she used eight counterfeit five-dollar bills created by Barnett on a home printer to make a purchase at a Las Cruces beauty supply store.
At sentencing, Barnett and Provencio each face a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison. Sentencing hearings have yet to be scheduled.
Perez and Fernandez have entered not guilty pleas to the charges in the indictment. Charges in indictments are merely accusations and defendants are presumed innocent unless found guilty in a court of law.
This case was investigated by the Las Cruces office of Homeland Security Investigations and the Las Cruces Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney John Balla of the U.S. Attorney’s Las Cruces Branch Office is prosecuting the case.