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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Rhode Island

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Federal Jury In Rhode Island Convicts Indiana Man In Black Money Scam

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – A federal court jury in Providence, R.I., on Wednesday convicted Alvin Pennue, 32, of Indianapolis, Ind., with passing altered United States currency on two occasions and inducing a victim to transport $5,000 from Massachusetts to Rhode Island as part of a Black money scam, announced United States Attorney Peter F. Neronha and Brian S. Deck, Acting Resident Agent in Charge of the Providence Office of the United States Secret Service.

Black money scams are schemes to defraud whereby individuals attempt to obtain money from a victim by persuading that person that large quantities of banknote-sized paper are really U.S. currency that has been dyed black, typically to avoid detection by customs agents. The victim is persuaded, with the prospect of sharing in the proceeds, to supply real currency to purchase supplies and otherwise facilitate a chemical transformation that will remove the black dye covering the supposedly genuine currency. In reality, except for a few genuine currency bills used to advance the scheme, the black money is usually black construction paper.

The government’s evidence, presented to the jury during two days of testimony, showed that during October 2011, Alvin Pennue, through another person, passed to an undercover U.S. Secret Service agent two blackened U.S. $100 bills and passed to a victim two blackened $20 bills. Mr. Pennue persuaded the victim to withdraw $5,000 in $100 bills from his bank account in Massachusetts on October 21, 2011, and to bring that money to Providence to invest in the black money scam. 

At the time of his arrest on October 28, 2011, Mr. Pennue and a second person were in possession of a black suitcase containing supplies used to facilitate a black money scam. Mr. Pennue was also in possession of over $2,700, including twenty-three $100 bills.

Alvin Pennue was convicted of two counts of passing altered obligations of the United States and one count of interstate transportation of stolen property - inducing a victim to transport U.S. currency in interstate commerce as part of a scheme to defraud.

Passing altered currency is punishable by up to 20 years in federal prison; up to 5 years supervised release; and up to a $250,000 fine.  Inducing interstate transportation of money for fraud is punishable by up to 10 years in federal prison; up to 3 years of supervised release; and up to a $250,000 fine. 

Pennue, who was detained following the verdict, is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge John J. McConnell, Jr. on September 4, 2013.

Arrests warrants have been issued for two co-defendants in this matter, Saah Johnson, 36, of Fall River, Mass., and Anthony Chadheen, 35, of Providence.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard W. Rose and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Benjamin S. Towbin.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Providence Police Department, and the Rhode Island State Fire Marshal’s Office assisted the U.S. Secret Service in the investigation of this matter.

To assist the media and the public, a glossary of federal judicial terms and procedures is available at

Contact: 401-709-5357

Updated June 22, 2015