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Press Release

Arkansas man sentenced to 60 months in prison for conspiracy to cash counterfeit checks in four states

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Louisiana

MONROE, La. – United States Attorney Stephanie A. Finley announced that an Arkansas man was sentenced Tuesday to 60 months in prison for conspiring with several women to conduct a counterfeit check cashing scheme.

Dion Paul Barnes, 38, of Little Rock, Ark., was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Robert G. James on one count of conspiracy to make, utter or possess counterfeit securities.  He was also sentenced to three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $24,153.46 restitution.  According to the February 23, 2016 guilty plea, from January 2015 to June 2015, Barnes conspired with multiple individuals including April M. Augustine, 35, of Monroe, and Barbara J. Island, 32, of Bastrop, La., to make and cash counterfeit checks.  A Louisiana state trooper conducted a traffic stop near Sterlington, La., on June 10, 2016 on a Chevrolet Camaro the defendants were traveling in.  A search was conducted, and 48 counterfeit checks, a large stack of blank check stock paper, two laptop computers, three computer tablets, six cell phones and one print-scan-copy machine were found.  Troopers also found a DVD containing template software that could be used to produce fake identification cards.  The car they were riding in was also reported stolen.  Upon further investigation, Dion Barnes was found to be the leader of a scheme to cash counterfeit checks in Arkansas, Mississippi, Missouri and Louisiana.  Barnes is solely responsible for the creation of $39,712.22 worth of counterfeit checks.  Barnes, Augustine and Island are responsible for cashing a total of $2,274.73 worth of counterfeit checks.

Island was sentenced on April 18, 2016, to 10 months in prison and three years of supervised release, and Augustine was sentenced on June 20, 2016, to five years of probation for the conspiracy count.  They were also ordered to pay $2,274.73 in restitution along with Barnes.

The U.S. Secret Service and the Louisiana State Police conducted the investigation.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Cytheria D. Jernigan prosecuted the case.

Updated July 8, 2016