Buffalo Couple Arrested, Charged With Making, Passing Counterfeit Money
BUFFALO, N.Y.-U.S. Attorney Trini E. Ross announced today that Eric M. Butson, 36, and Catalina Hernandez, 41, both of Buffalo, NY, were arrested and charged by criminal complaint with conspiracy to manufacture and pass counterfeit United States currency. The charges carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul E. Bonanno, who is handling the case, stated that between December 2022, and March 2023, Butson and Hernandez are accused of conspiring to manufacture and pass counterfeit money in stores, restaurants, and shops. According to the complaint, on January 10, 2023, Butson and Hernandez used a counterfeit $100 bill to make a purchase at Watson's Chocolates on Elmwood Avenue in Buffalo. Watson's Chocolates reported this incident and provided surveillance video to the United States Secret Service. Subsequent investigation determined that Butson and Hernandez, wearing Covid masks, successfully passed or attempted to pass counterfeit $100 bills, bearing the same serial number of the bill used at Watson’s Chocolates, at multiple businesses including:
- Sunshine and Bluebirds
- Elmwood Pet Supplies
- Walgreens Drug Store
- Hydraulic Hearth
- Left Bank Restaurant
- Jim’s Steakout
- Cheesy Chick Café
- Humbert House Restaurant
On February 6, 2023, investigators pulled the trash from the defendants Orlando Street residence, recovering an ink cartridge, a partial counterfeit bill, printer paper with the outlines of bills used to align printing of counterfeit bills, receipts, and bags from businesses on Elmwood Avenue where counterfeit bills were passed, and handwritten addresses of businesses where counterfeit bills were passed. To date, Butson and Hernandez have attempted to pass counterfeit bills at more than 50 businesses in the greater Buffalo area. They are also currently charged in the Towns of Amherst and West Seneca with passing counterfeit bills.
The defendants made an initial appearance this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeremiah J. McCarthy and are being held pending a detention hearing on March, 24, 2023.
The criminal complaint is the result of an investigation by the United States Secret Service, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Jeffrey Burr, Homeland Security Investigations, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Matthew Scarpino, and the New York State Police, under the direction of Major Eugene Staniszewski.
The fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
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