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Press Release

Queens Woman Pleads Guilty to Possession of Counterfeit $100 Bills

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

   ROCHESTER, N.Y.--U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr. announced today that Michele Sergeant, 31, of Queens, N.Y., pleaded guilty to possession of counterfeit bank notes before U.S. District Court Judge Frank P. Geraci. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

                Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig R. Gestring, who is handling the case, stated that on September 22, 2013, New York State Troopers stopped the defendant in a vehicle on Interstate 390 in the town of Wayland in Steuben County. The car was traveling at 102 mph in a 65 mph zone. During a search, troopers found marijuana in the car and the defendant and her co-defendant were arrested. Following their arrest, troopers located $8,700 in $100 bank notes inside the car along with a financial ledger book. Inside the ledger were columns which showed dollar amounts and abbreviations for retail locations. The New York State Police contacted the United States Secret Service for investigative assistance.

Secret Service Agents determined that the 87 $100 bills recovered were actually sophisticated counterfeit bills, complete with water marks, color shifting ink, and embedded security strips. They further determined that the ledger notations were references to Home Depot, Lowes, Target, and Wal-Mart stores. As part of the investigation, Secret Service Agents reviewed store surveillance video from the dates and times of the transactions listed in the ledger. The defendant, and a co-defendant, were identified on video surveillance from several area stores passing counterfeit $100 bank notes. Subsequent investigation determined that Sergeant had passed an additional $14,100 in counterfeit $100 bank notes within the Western District of New York. At the time the defendant passed the counterfeit bills here, she was on release for similar conduct in the State of Massachusetts.

As part of the investigation, Secret Service Agents learned that Sergeant and her co-defendant, O’neal Walker, were also identified passing counterfeit $100 bank notes in several other states. Specifically, they passed $2,000 in counterfeit $100 bank notes in Ohio; $600 in counterfeit $100 bank notes in Massachusetts; $13,500 in counterfeit $100 bank notes in Syracuse, within the Northern District of New York; $19,700 in counterfeit $100 bank notes in Michigan; and $6,800 in counterfeit $100 bank notes in Arkansas. The total loss due to Sergeant’s actions was $65,300.

The guilty plea is the culmination of an investigation on the part of Special Agents of the United States Secret Service, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge, Tracy Gast, and Investigators and Troopers of the New York State Police, under the direction of Major Scott Crosier.

                Sentencing is scheduled for October 15, 2014 at 3:30 p.m. before Judge Geraci.
Updated November 24, 2014